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Netherlands anticipates first solar-powered island that produces hydrogen bunker fuel

02 Feb 2021

Hydrogen-based zero emissions bunker fuel producer Voyex on Friday (29 January) said a prototype of a floating seaworthy solar-island that bunkers ships with hydrogen, a first in the Netherlands, will soon be on display on the Waal near IJzendoorn.

The Province of Gelderland has supported this innovation with a subsidy of EUR 350,000 (USD 422,689) and Dekker will facilitate the project by offering space.

To make inland shipping more sustainable, SolarDuck and Voyex announced a R&D-partnership to enable emission-free sailing by using hydrogen.

The companies said the solution is safe, easy, economic and technically feasible. Additionally, there will be no need to transport bunker fuel because refueling takes place right at the source: the floating solar island on the Waal on which testing will commence in April 2021.

“The innovative power lies in combining technologies,” said to Koen Burgers, CEO of SolarDuck.

“If upscaled, a solar island at sea and on rivers can offer the shipping sector a sustainable alternative.”

The test setup at Dekker in IJzendoorn will be the first of its kind in the Netherlands.

SolarDuck will supply the solar island four linked platforms containing 39 solar panels each. These modular platforms are suited for the rough conditions found at sea, but will first be tested on the Waal to look at 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 IJzendoorn. A unique event in itself,” added Burgers.

The floating solar island, which produces 65 kilowatts of peak power, is connected to a 10 kilowatt electrolyzer 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 of Voyex.

Part of the trial setup is the manner in which the hydrogen is released from the oil and subsequently used to generate power on board. The carrier itself can be reused, which means the entire energy grid up to and including the sailing on safe hydrogen is within reach.

The project is aptly named “The Atoll”, referring to the movie “Waterworld”, in which an artificial man-made island supplies its own energy needs.

Both companies noted they have the long-term ambition to produce hydrogen using floating solar islands at sea to supply both the shipping sector and other heavy-duty applications.

The total size of the project is approximately EUR 1,000,000 (USD 1.21 million) and the Province of Gelderland awarded it with a subsidy of EUR 350,000 (USD 422,689).

Photo credit: Voyex
Published: 2 February, 2021

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