Consortium wins multimillion-pound grant to build autonomous hydrogen vessel

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A consortium led by Acua Ocean, a zero-emission vessel provider, working in partnership with zero-emission infrastructure provider Unitrove, has been awarded a multimillion-pound UK government grant to help in the decarbonization of the maritime sector.

The Hydrogen Innovation – Future Infrastructure & Vessel Evaluation and Demonstration (HI-FIVED) consortium will be provided with £3.8m (US$4.6m) in funding to construct an autonomous vessel with supporting bunkering infrastructure technologies for liquid hydrogen.

The project ­– estimated to cost £5.4m (US$6.5m) and scheduled for delivery in autumn 2024 – aims to establish a domestic green shipping corridor between Aberdeen in mainland Scotland and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, using hydrogen-powered autonomous ships to transport cargo.

Additional partners in 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.

Unitrove aims to deploy its mobile fueling technology at the Port of Aberdeen to support Acua Ocean’s bid to construct and operate what is claimed to be the world’s first maritime autonomous surface ship operating on liquid hydrogen.

HI-FIVED is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3), which was announced in September 2022. It is funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

“Delivering successful technology demonstrations is critical to de-risking future investment in maritime decarbonization,” explained Michael Tinmouth, COO of Acua Ocean. “This CMDC3 project brings together a consortium of innovative partners, subcontractors and suppliers from across the maritime sector, who are all laser-focused on the need to reduce emissions and accelerate the adoption and commercialization of new technologies.”

“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,” said Steven Lua, CEO of Unitrove. “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.”

“Zero-emission fuels and vessels are an essential element in achieving decarbonization within the maritime sector, and green shipping corridors will play a key role in meeting the sector’s goals,” said Marlene Mitchell, commercial manager of Port of Aberdeen. “This project offers a unique opportunity for our newly operational South Harbour to act as a practical and at-scale living lab for net zero in the port and maritime sector and will directly address the theme of zero-emission infrastructure and also consider the feasibility of developing shoreside renewable energy generation at our port to supply vessels in alignment with DfT’s 2019 Clean Maritime Plan.”

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After spending six years working as a mechanic for various motorsport and high-end performance car companies, Callum joined UKi Media & Events in February 2020 as an assistant editor. In this role he uses his vast practical knowledge and passion for automotive to produce informative news pieces for multiple vehicle-related sectors.

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