A consortium led by zero-emission vessel provider ACUA Ocean and zero-emission infrastructure provider Unitrove has been awarded a £3.8 million grant by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Innovate UK to deliver autonomous hydrogen-powered cargo ships and the necessary infrastructure to support them.
The consortium calls itself Hydrogen Innovation – Future Infrastructure & Vessel Evaluation and Demonstration (HI-FIVED). Expected to be delivered in the autumn of 2024, HI-FIVED ‘aims to establish a domestic green shipping corridor between Aberdeen and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, with hydrogen-powered autonomous ships being used to transport cargo’.
While ACUA Ocean will take the lead on building and operating ‘the world’s first maritime autonomous surface ship powered by liquid hydrogen’, Unitrove will look to deploy its mobile fuelling technology at the Port of Aberdeen to support the vessels.
Steven Lua, Chief Executive of Unitrove, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to receive UK government support to enable real-world demonstration of the world’s first liquid hydrogen autonomous vessel and infrastructure. Having built such a strong consortium of eight fantastic partners across the supply chain, we can have great confidence that we will deliver something truly remarkable.”
In addition to ACUA Ocean and Unitrove, the other six organisations that comprise the consortium are the Port of Aberdeen, the University of Southampton, Zero Emissions Maritime Technology, Composite Manufacturing and Design, Trident Marine Electrical, and NASH Maritime.
The funding for this project has come as part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3), funded by the DfT and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.
UK Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper added: “Our maritime sector imports 95% of goods into the UK and contributes £116 billion to our economy – more than both aviation and rail combined.
“With growing the economy one of the government’s top priorities, we must continue our efforts to ensure the UK remains a pioneer in cutting-edge clean maritime solutions. This funding will help to do just that, bringing emission-free concepts to life and fuelling innovation.”