A project to develop hydrogen-powered, remote-controlled and autonomous container ships is moving forward with a funding grant from Norway. The project, which is led by Dutch intermodal transport company Samskip and marine robotics firm Ocean Infinity, is aiming for launch by 2025, saying it could enable one of Europe’s first green corridors.
Called SeaShuttle, the project calls for two vessels that would operate between Oslofjord in Norway and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, each with a capacity of 500 TEUs. The Samskip-Ocean Infinity partnership spans both vessel construction and operation, in a collaboration that aims to advance zero-emissions, efficient and safe multimodal logistics. Each of the SeaShuttles would be powered by a 3.2 MW hydrogen fuel cell.
Announced in April 2022, the project reaches a new milestone with a $15 million funding commitment from ENOVA. The state-owned company, which reports to Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment, is designed to promote a transition to more environmentally friendly energy consumption and production, as well as carbon-based technologies. durable energy.
“Securing this funding provides a platform to make emission-free container shipping a reality,” said Are Gråthen, CEO of Samskip Norway. “Together, Samskip and Ocean Infinity will also accelerate their plans to advance autonomous vessel technologies and remote operation of vessels and cargo handling equipment.”
According to the companies, SeaShuttle could create what amounts to one of Europe’s first zero-emission green corridors and serve as a demonstration for other projects. Several other projects are also in development for launch in Norway, but they focus on short sea routes. Work began last year on construction of a pair of all-electric autonomous ro-ro cargo ships for Norwegian food retailer Asko. They will operate across the Oslofjord, while furniture maker Ekornes has announced it is teaming up with German logistics firm DB Schenker as well as design firm Naval Dynamics to study the new autonomous vessel to operate on a 23-mile route in Norway. Yara also has started testing on the Yara Birkeland aiming to complete certification for autonomous operations by 2024.
Christoffer Jorgenvag, CCO, Ocean Infinity, commented, “Ocean Infinity’s enabling technologies can facilitate green corridors, but also the broader decarbonization and transformation of maritime operations. Today, the focus is on SeaShuttle vessels, which are just one part of Ocean Infinity’s overall strategy of unleashing innovation to deliver truly sustainable maritime operations.
The companies said the funding means the partners can contract for two new 500 TEU vessels installed with a main propulsion solution that can be adapted to run on hydrogen. A diesel-electric propulsion plant will also be on board as a backup, although Gråthen stressed: “We are confident that green hydrogen will be affordable and available in Norway.”