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Hydrogen fuel cell startup receives government funding to tackle maritime decarbonisation

Bramble Energy has secured £994,050 in government funding from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) to further develop its hydrogen fuel cell technology, to replace diesel engines in boats, potentially saving 50,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.  The unique fuel cell will be the basis for a fully compliant demonstrator vessel, crucial for the rapid adoption of hydrogen within inland waterways.

The funding will be used by Bramble Energy and partners to bring together a strong, UK based commercial consortium to develop an affordable fuel cell system for mass maritime decarbonisation. The consortium will be led by Bramble Energy who has partnered with one of the UK’s leading marine engine suppliers, Barrus, in the ‘BRAMBUS’ feasibility project. Barrus will deliver the vital technical, commercial and legislative requirements of the marine market and provide the direct route to market exploitation.

The “BRAMBUS” project will be a first in the marine sector and supports wider ambition for Bramble Energy to develop Printed Circuit Board Fuel Cell (PCBFC) systems for other maritime applications.

Chief Operating Officer, Vidal Bharath at Bramble Energy, said: “Achieving net zero is contingent not only for decarbonising the UK’s roads, rails and air space, but also the inland and coastal waterways too. Fuel cells are one of the most promising technologies for decarbonising the maritime sector as they provide not only a range extender to pure battery systems, but also to remove the reliance on a charging base.

“This project provides the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our decarbonising technology in a real world, challenging environment across an industry where we are gaining momentum. To add to the excitement, we are honoured to be partnering with a worldwide leading custom-engine builder, Barrus.”

Managing Director, Robert Muir at Barrus, added: “For over 100 years, Barrus has been championing innovations within the marine industry, including developing electric and diesel-electric hybrid power plants for the inland waterways market. We are incredibly proud to be the first to create a medium-sized range zero-emissions, commercially viable solution for inland waterways vessels and to advance the knowledge of safe integration and hydrogen fuel cells’ operation in marine environments. We are delighted to partner with Bramble Energy to decarbonise our inland waterways in this game-changing project.”

The UK is globally recognised as a maritime nation, with a shipbuilding industry that exports around the world. The maritime sector contributes to 940 million tonnes of CO2 per year, equating to approximately 2.5% of global greenhouse gases (GHG). The Clean Maritime Plan requires new vessels to be zero-emission capable from 2025.

The goals for the “BRAMBUS” feasibility project are:

  • Assessing the market and business case for affordable hydrogen and the infrastructure required at marines to supply hydrogen to the vessels.
  • Complying with the UK Recreational Craft Regulation, relevant UK Pressure Regulations and EMC Regulations.
  • Target a fuel cell size of 10kW, where there are currently no marinised fuel cell options available.
  • Designing a propulsion system for inland waterways and light marine craft which provides a low-cost zero emission option for the vessels.

“Hydrogen fuel cells offer a practical zero-emissions power solution to the maritime sector. Our ambition with this project is that we are able to demonstrate how the industry can overcome two of the limitations stopping hydrogen becoming a mainstream solution – capital cost and the supply and storage of it,” concluded Bharath.

ABP invests in Port of Lowestoft to support UK Southern North Sea energy sector

Associated British Ports (ABP), the owner and operator of the Port of Lowestoft has invested more than £250,000 in the construction of a new fuel bunkering facility to support the UK Southern North Sea (SNS) energy sector.

Yesterday, the bunkering facility received its first fuel from the vessel, Thun Grace, which called at the Port of Lowestoft on behalf of Peterson UK and GEOS Group as part of a strategic partnership to carry out fuel services. GEOS Group provides fuel directly from a UK refinery to various ports around the UK.

John Shade, UK Fuel Manager, said: “This new fuel bunkering facility provides operators from the oil and gas and offshore wind sectors with another reason to use Lowestoft as their port of choice, with capability and capacity now in place to service any vessel that comes into the port. We are pleased to have worked in partnership with ABP and GEOS Group to create a competitively priced solution in a very convenient location.”

Barry Newton, Director, GEOS Group, added: “We are delighted to be able to provide a fuelling facility in Lowestoft, both supporting and adding to port services, and are excited to work with ABP in the development of the port going forward.”

Construction of the new facility, which included the raising of bund walls, began in November 2019 and was completed on schedule by the local contractor Brooks and Wood.

Paul Ager, ABP Divisional Port Manager – East Coast, said: “Today marks another important milestone in our partnership with Peterson UK and GEOS Group, which will help support jobs and the regional economy at this vital time.

“With this new bunkering facility our marine teams are able to support the UK SNS energy sector 365 days a year, making sure that our customers get a consistent, cost-effective and efficient service.”

Since the start of ABP and Peterson UK’s long-term business partnership in January 2019, the two companies have celebrated a number of successes, including reaching the milestone of handling 100 vessels in October 2019. Since then, this figure has grown to more than 350 vessels, which have called at the port.

Peterson UK operates a wide range of warehouses and other cargo and logistic services from the Port of Lowestoft, including fuel bunkering to support the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors being supplied from its Lowestoft Supply Base.