Wartsila, a Finland-based provider of power solutions for the marine market, is supporting a project in Norway, which seeks to develop a fuel solution for ships and offshore.

The project is testing the use of fuel cell technology to provide sufficient energy storage for the entire voyage for long-distance ocean-going vessels.

Preliminary results from tests revealed a carbon dioxide reduction of as much as 40% to 45% when using liquefied natural gas (LNG) compared to existing solutions.

The current battery solutions are not capable of operating on ships that sail long distances, the so-called deep-sea fleet, which includes more than 50,000 ships worldwide.

The project’s fuel cell technology will be initially tested with a 1.2MW prototype at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre in Stord, Norway. The prototype will then be installed on board Odjfell chemical tanker for sea trials.

Wartsila Marine Power technology manager Ingve Sørfonn said: “Greater efficiency and increased sustainability are at the core of Wartsila’s Smart Marine Ecosystem vision. We see the combustion engine remaining as the stalwart of shipping because it has the flexibility to operate on future renewable fuels as and when they become compliant, market-ready and available.

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“However, we are keen to support all efforts and innovations aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of shipping, and we see this fuel cell project as being an important contribution to this effort.”

Apart from Wartsila, participants in the project include Odfjell, Prototech and Lundin Energy Norway.

The fuel cell project has so far been funded by Gassnova, the Norwegian state enterprise for carbon capture and storage, and by the participants.