Hydrogen-electric power infrastructure tested in Port of Gothenburg


Hydrogen fuel cells are an option for shore power connections as they align with the hydrogen infrastructure that many ports are implementing or have planned.

Hydrogen-electric power infrastructure tested in Port of Gothenburg
Field test in the Port of Gothenburg © PowerCell Group

Port of Gothenburg, Skanska, PowerCell Group, Hitachi Energy, Linde Gas, Volvo Group and Skagerak Energy have conducted a joint field test to demonstrate the latest innovation in hydrogen-electric power infrastructure: the containerised Hyflex solution.

From March 4-17 in the Port of Gothenburg, the project partners demonstrated that the solution is ready to replace fossil fuel solutions today in real-life operations.

The trial was focused on off-grid power generation for construction sites and vehicles, but the technology also has potential port applications, specifically with marine shore power connections (cold ironing) in mind.

When docked at port, ships remain predominantly powered by auxiliary engines to provide energy while the main engines are shut down. These auxiliary engines are typically powered by polluting oil-based fuels. Therefore, the development of more, and more sustainable shore power connections is key to reducing GHG emissions in ports.

From a marine perspective, the demonstrator project is well-timed with the European Union’s latest regulations. Under FuelEU Maritime, it will be obligatory for passenger and container ships to use shore power supplies for all electricity needs while moored in major EU ports as of 2030, to mitigate air pollution in ports, which are often close to densely populated areas.

Sustainable shore power connections lower ships’ total GHG emissions and eliminate the local emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and particulate matter such as black carbon that ships burning oil-based fuels produce. Importantly, this improves local air quality and supports the respiratory health of nearby residents, port workers, passengers and crew.

Hyflex solution

PowerCell Group has partnered with Hitachi Energy, a global technology leader in promoting sustainable energy, to develop a new product called Hyflex. The product is a flexible container solution that can be used in a wide range of applications for emission-free power production.

Hydrogen-electric power infrastructure tested in Port of Gothenburg
Credit: PowerCell Group

Hyflex uses a 100kW hydrogen fuel cell from PowerCell in combination with batteries to generate power independently of the grid without emitting greenhouse gases when using green hydrogen.

Hydrogen and fuel cells can also deliver an independent ‘off-grid’ energy source; adding a layer of resilience, if – for example – the grid is unstable or goes down. Hydrogen fuel cells are a strong option for shore power connections as they align well with the hydrogen infrastructure that many ports are already implementing or have planned.

Richard Berkling, CEO of PowerCell Group, commented: “The green transition is underway, with hydrogen-electric solutions increasingly commercially valid for replacing fossil fuels in power generation – with demand for industrialised solutions supporting decarbonisation growing. At PowerCell, we see that the hydrogen industry is beyond the tech exploration stage and we are delivering emission-free fuel cell products to our customers. This makes us well-prepared and ready to be an enabler of the technology shift in the industry.

“The Hyflex has the potential to replace diesel generator sets across multiple platforms, as well as taking on new power generation applications. The current demonstrator has been developed with construction sites in mind, however, we also recognise the need for marine and port electrification applications, such as sustainable ship-to-shore power.”

“This is a great example of the importance and power of collaboration when industry leaders come together to accelerate the energy transition. The HyFlex installation at Skanska’s construction site in the Port of Gothenburg successfully demonstrates how this hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology can serve as a clean and reliable alternative to diesel generators,” said Tobias Hansson, Country Managing Director, Hitachi Energy in Sweden.

Viktor Allgurén, Innovation Manager at the Port of Gothenburg, stated: “A port is in many ways the perfect place for the use of hydrogen. In a diverse and energy-intensive operation like the Port of Gothenburg, hydrogen has many applications (beyond what we have seen today). For example, as fuel for trucks, locomotives, or handling equipment in the port, as well as for propulsion of ships, or to support the power grid when a ship is connected to shore power. So the use of hydrogen fits perfectly into the port context.”

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