By combining batteries with hydrogen fuel cells, Corvus Energy, LMG Marin and their consortium will crack the code for efficient and emission-free shipping.
Big things are happening in the maritime sector when it comes to batteries and hydrogen, but both solutions have limitations. For electric vessels, the challenge lies in range and charging infrastructure, while the challenges for pure hydrogen solutions are low production volume, high operating costs and short service life.
For twelve years now, Corvus Energy has been developing dedicated battery systems for maritime use, and they are currently the world’s largest supplier of maritime battery systems. Together with the ship design company LMG Marin, the support of Innovation Norway, and a consortium consisting of Equinor, Norled, Wilhelmsen, NCE Maritime CleanTech and the University of South-Eastern Norway, the company has initiated a project where hydrogen and batteries are combined.
NOK 50 million in funding
“This technology can become part of the solution in achieving the EU’s goal of zero emissions by 2050, and is in accordance with the Government’s action plan for green shipping”, says Sandra Vespestad, finance adviser at Innovation Norway Vestland.
The environmental technology funding granted to this project is more than NOK 50 million, and it is the largest that Innovation Norway Vestland allocated in 2020. According to Vespestad, it is evidence of the high level of confidence that the project will result in value creation for Norway in the form of increased export potential and new jobs.
Having Innovation Norway on the team was a prerequisite
“In order to solve challenges related to the green shift in the maritime sector, one must reduce the price of fuel cells, increase the availability of the technology and increase market capacity”, says Vespestad.
Corvus Energy’s business strategy regarding battery products is to utilise the large-scale advantage of car and land-based battery cells, which Corvus adapts to maritime use. The same core knowledge will be used by the company in the development of hydrogen fuel cells.
Instead of developing its own maritime fuel cells from scratch, which is part of what makes maritime fuel cell systems less cost-effective, Corvus Energy will purchase mass-produced car and land-based fuel cell modules from Toyota, which will then be adapted for maritime use.
In addition, the fuel cells must be combined with batteries, which will relieve and optimise the use of the fuel cells. LMG Marin will ensure that the system works in a broad segment of different ship solutions.
“Having Innovation Norway as part of the team was a prerequisite. I am very happy that others saw the potential involved here, and I believe that it can turn into something big”, says Torbjørn Bringedal, Managing Director of LMG Marin.
Aiming to become a world leader
Corvus Energy has a goal of taking the same position as on marine battery products, and also becoming a world-leading supplier of maritime fuel cells.
“If the project succeeds, it will strengthen Norwegian industry actors in the global race to offer zero-emission technology within the shipping industry and maritime environmental technology. The project participants have world-leading expertise in the development and operation of efficient energy solutions for maritime transport”, says Vespestad.
Corvus Energy is about to undergo a restructuring process where they intend to dedicate 20 positions to the development of the fuel cells. They will also create their own large-scale production line. In addition, three designers from LMG Marin will focus on the project and members of the entire consortium will assist in their areas of expertise.
Not possible without Innovation Norway
“Through several successful projects, both Corvus Energy and LMG Marin have proven that they are able to think in new ways and that they are willing to invest time and resources in innovation and development”, says Vespestad.
The project will run over three years, by which time the first product should be ready for the market. However, Project Director Kristian Holmefjord makes it clear that things would not have been possible without the support of Innovation Norway.
Holmefjord believes that because it will still take time for hydrogen to become cost-effective compared to other types of fuel, high risk is associated with the investment and it would be difficult to justify things financially if we were without support.
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without Innovation Norway”, he says.