Norway launches large-scale hydrogen ferry project

A new tender for the country’s longest ferry crossing in Vestfjorden will call for hydrogen propulsion.

The route between Bodø and Moskenes in Vestfjorden can experience severe weather conditions and a pure battery option for the crossing is not feasible.

Over the last year, the NCE Maritime CleanTech cluster has worked to highlight the importance of using the Vestfjorden tender to accelerate technology development within hydrogen solutions.

‘We are very happy to see the Government prioritising industry development over the lowest possible costs. This decision will have many positive repercussions for the maritime industry,’ commented NCE Maritime CleanTech’s CEO, Hege Økland.

MF Landegode is one of four ferries currently operating on the route between Bodø – Værøy – Røst – Moskenes. The 93-metre-long LNG-operated vessel carries 390 passengers, 120 cars and 12 trucks.

The final decision to require hydrogen in the tender for a new ferry was taken by the Norwegian government and announced on 31 October.

According to Økland, ‘Public development contracts followed by requirements for zero emission in public tenders is an extremely important driver for technology development.

‘Requirements for hydrogen on Norway’s longest and roughest ferry crossing will not only push the technology development it will also lead to the establishment of new facilities for hydrogen production in the north of Norway – making hydrogen available also for other vessels in that region.’

In combination with a hydrogen production plant planned by BKK, Equinor and AirLiquide in Mongstad, near Bergen, the plant supplying the Vestfjorden ferries will ensure hydrogen is available for ships along the entire Norwegian coastline.

The Public Road Administration will soon invite operators and technology suppliers to a dialogue conference to get input for the tender development. The final tender will be announced before Christmas with the aim of signing the contract with an operator before summer 2021.

‘The tender phase will start on 1 January 2024 with a duration of 15 years, which is five years longer than the existing contract for the crossing.

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes