Making shipping greener

TECO 2030Oslo/Narvik

After more than 25 years in the shipping industry, the CEO at TECO Maritime Group saw that the industry could not continue as before. He and his company have now come up with a solution that could help cut the high greenhouse gas emissions from shipping.

Today, no less than 90 per cent of all freight goes by sea. Since shipping contributes to around 3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, this is putting pressure on the industry to use more sustainable energy sources going forward.

As a spinoff from the TECO Maritime Group, the company TECO 2030 ASA will focus on hydrogen-based fuel cells that allow ships to switch from fossil fuels.

“The entire industry is now coming to the realisation that we have to get down to zero emissions quickly. We need to work together on this, no one can do it on their own. We believe that hydrogen and fuel cells will be crucial with respect to ensuring that the maritime industry is able to reduce CO2 emissions. We want to replace engines with fuel cell engines," says Cristian Skajem, Head of Communications at TECO 2030.

Substantial support from Innovation Norway

The company has received more than NOK 50 million from Innovation Norway for the development of fuel cells and to prepare for production in Narvik. The grant was among the largest nationally in 2021. Skajem is very grateful for the support.

“The funds have facilitated a faster development process and initiation of the production plant construction phase,” says Skajem.

Roman Zherebko is a funding adviser at Innovation Norway and says the project is very important for Innovation Norway.

“The project entails innovation at an international level, since as of today no fuel cell solutions exist that have been specifically developed for maritime use. The company can industrialise technology and it has the potential to be scaled. If the project succeeds, it could mean a need for 500 jobs in Narvik,” says Zherebko.

Short shipping will be the first users

The fuel cells are being developed in collaboration with its partner AVL in Austria. TECO 2030’s goal is to be a leading player when it comes to emission cutting technologies and equipment, and hydrogen based fuel cells for both the maritime industry and heavy industry.

“A fuel cell reverses the process of electrolysis. You input oxygen in at one end and hydrogen in at the other and when the cells meet they create electricity and release water. It becomes an engine that generates electricity, a bit like a generator," says Skajem.

Fuel cells will allow vessels and other heavy applications to switch from fossil fuel such as heavy oil and diesel to climate friendly hydrogen. The fuel cells will be delivered in modules of 400kW that can be put together to achieve greater electricity production capacity.

“The very first things that will run solely on these fuel cells will be the ferry connections and ships that sail along the Norwegian coast. At the same time, we can reduce emissions from larger vessels by, for example, plugging a fuel cell into a larger vessel so that it can operate the hour before entering port and the first hour after leaving port emission-free,” says Skajem.

Groundbreaking technology

The company will start pilot production in December and main production will start in 2023. The plan is to have 100 employees at the plant in Northern Norway by 2025.

The company also has an ongoing project that involves building a hydrogen powered express vessel for the Port of Narvik that can maintain a speed of 23 knots and operate emission-free.

“We have heard many fine words from shipowners about this and these are the best maritime fuel cells they have seen. It’s incredibly exciting to be part of such a project. We regularly receive new enquiries from different projects of varying sizes. I’m very grateful just to have had an opportunity to be part of this journey. It’s cool helping to solve social challenges so that our grandchildren can live as good a life as we have lived,” says Skajem.

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