Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Hydrogen powered ferry to be studied for Western Isles

I usually steer clear of projects involving hydrogen, not because there is anything intrinsically wrong with the idea itself, if carried out under appropriate conditions, but because all too often I find that many of those advocating such projects are technically incompetent, and fall into closer to the category of Green Looney than informed advocate.

Hydrogen is easy to misrepresent, and sell only on the basis of being ‘clean’ (or ‘green’), since the only emission (claimed by some) from its use is… water.

But this forgets the conventional process of producing the gas, which can consume large amounts of energy. This is merely a fact arising from the processes involved – it is neither ‘green’ nor ‘non-green’.

This also conveniently glosses over the consequent fact that using the same energy (and let’s be honest and say this is electricity) to power electrical transport directly can be done at around 90% efficiency, while using hydrogen to power transport, via a mechanical engine, or fuel cells, with only yield about 20% – once the whole chain is taken into account.

Those with a negative agenda will now point out that the production process is ‘dirty’, since it uses various fossil fuels to produce the electricity needed to manufacture/compress/store/chill/pump the hydrogen.

They might also note that hydrogen cannot be stored indefinitely, and in hydrogen vehicle use, the tanks have to be vented as the compressed gas boils, with the loss being up to half a tank over a two-week period.

And so far, apparently, there are no private hydrogen refuelling stations for vehicles – they cost millions, and the few that exist for road vehicles are presently only provided by the hydrogen suppliers. I could go on with more potential pros and cons, but it’s not my job to educate, just to point out that both exist, and should be properly considered.

But we don’t have an agenda, so we now point out that sensible plans will use renewable sources of electricity for those processes – something that makes a great deal of difference to such proposals.

This is a game-changer for such proposals, and it seems that the proposal for a hydrogen-powered ferry does refer to renewable sources to provide its hydrogen.

The feasibility study will look at the manufacture of the hydrogen using local wind power, the challenges of how to handle, transport and store the hydrogen on local piers, and how the design of the ship and its engines needs to be adapted to run on hydrogen fuel.

Point and Sandwick Trust said hydrogen has been used for small vessels on rivers or coastal routes but, so far, not successfully for larger sea-going vessels.

Project manager Calum MacDonald, development director for Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We have a simple yet bold vision which is to harness the huge potential of community-owned wind power on the Scottish islands to power the lifeline ferry services by utilising the very latest in hydrogen energy technology.

“Turning that vision into reality will be a world-first and requires the very best expertise in both energy and shipping technology.”

Via Study into hydrogen powered ferry for Western Isles

At this stage, pre-judging positively OR negatively would not be a wise move, and more indicative of the politics of anyone making such a premature judgement.

Hopefully the media will not just forget about this study, and will alert us to the subsequent findings.

I lost track of the story of CalMac’s hybrid ferries, and never picked up the thread again, although I was told that there had been a problem with the batteries, but my ‘informant’ on this subject failed to provide any details to back up the claim. And, after a quick look failed to find any substantial details, I gave up. I know… I should have ‘Tried harder’.

Wonder what these guys breathe?

Unusual Ferry

Unusual Ferry

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26/02/2018 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

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