Solar island to support hydrogen bunkering in Netherlands

SolarDuck and Voyex have been awarded €350,000 in subsidies from the Province of Gelderland to develop a solar-powered hydrogen fuelling facility in the Netherlands.

The Dutch companies have announced that they are to begin testing on the Waal near IJzeendoorn in April.

‘The innovative power lies in combining technologies,’ said Koen Burgers, CEO of SolarDuck. ‘If upscaled, a solar island at sea and on rivers can offer the shipping sector a sustainable alterative.’

The test setup, at Dekker Group’s facility in IJzeendoorn, will be the first of its kind in the Netherlands. SolarDuck will supply the solar island which comprises four linked platforms containing 39 solar panels each. The modular platforms are said to be suited to for rough sea conditions but will first be tested on the Waal to examine the effects of strong currents and heavy winds.

‘At the beginning of April, the entirety of the solar island will be towed upstream from Gorinchem to Dekker’s riverport in IJzeendoorn,’ said Burgers, ‘A unique event in itself!

The floating solar island, which produces 65 kilowatts of peak power, is connected to a 10-kilowatt electrolyser that produces hydrogen. The hydrogen is bonded to a liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC), an oil-like liquid which serves as a binding agent, or carrier, for the produced hydrogen.

‘This “hydrogen-oil” can be transported at room temperature, under the same atmospheric conditions as fuels such as diesel,’ said Wiard Leenders, CEO, Voyex.

Furthermore, part of the test setup is the way the hydrogen is released from the oil and subsequently used to generate power onboard.

‘The carrier itself can be reused,’ added Leenders, meaning that the entire energy grid up to an including the safe sailing on hydrogen ‘is within reach’.

The project is named ‘The Atoll’, after the film Waterworld in which an artificial manmade island supplies its own energy needs. Both companies have the long-term ambition, within their own respective angles of approach, to produce hydrogen using floating solar islands at sea to supply the shipping sector and heavy-duty applications.

‘Our floating sand extracting plants have already been made much more sustainable, however, we are still looking for a solution for our fleet,’ said Gert Pomstra, group director, Dekka. ‘We wholeheartedly support the innovation of SolarDuck and Voyex and hope this will contribute to making island shipping more sustainable.

The total value of the project is approximately €1 million.

Rhys Berry

Rhys Berry