SeaShuttle, an ambitious project to build two hydrogen-powered, remotely controlled and autonomous-ready container ships for delivery by 2025, has secured NOK 150 million (EUR 15 million) in funding from Norwegian state enterprise ENOVA. The vessels are planned to sail between Norway and the Netherlands.

The bold scheme, led by multimodal transport and logistics group Samskip and marine robotics specialist Ocean Infinity, envisages two SeaShuttle ships operating emissions-free between Oslo Fjord and Rotterdam, with each powered by a 3.2-MW hydrogen fuel cell.

ENOVA, which operates under Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment, promotes a shift towards more environmentally friendly energy consumption and production, as well as technologies based on sustainable energy.

Emissions-free container shipping

Originally announced at Nor-Shipping 2022, Oslo, in April, the Samskip-Ocean Infinity partnership covers both the construction and operation of the ships, in a collaboration seeking to push forward towards zero-emission, efficient and safe, multimodal logistics.

‘Securing this funding provides a platform to make emissions-free container shipping a reality,’ says Are Gråthen, CEO, Samskip Norway. ‘Together, Samskip and Ocean Infinity will also accelerate their plans to advance autonomous ship technologies, and remote operation of ships and cargo handling equipment. These ships are the first part of an exciting collaboration with Ocean Infinity.’

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Green corridor

In line with commitments given at the COP26 Clydebank Declaration, SeaShuttle would create what amounted to one of Europe’s first zero-emission “green corridors”, Gråthen added.

Christoffer Jorgenvag, CCO, Ocean Infinity, comments: ‘Ocean Infinity’s enabling technologies can facilitate green corridors, but also the broader decarbonisation and transformation of maritime operations. The emphasis today is on the SeaShuttle vessels, which are just part of Ocean Infinity’s overall strategy of unlocking innovation to deliver truly sustainable maritime operations.’

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The funding means the partners can move forward to contract two new 500-TEU ships installed with a main propulsion solution that can be adapted to run on hydrogen fuel. A diesel electric propulsion plant will be on board as back up, although Gråthen emphasises: ‘We have faith that green hydrogen will be affordable and available in Norway.’

Kari-Pekka Laaksonen, Group CEO, Samskip: ‘The SeaShuttle project is a substantial step in Samskip’s journey towards zero emission logistics. Its combination of fuel, technology and operational best practice is expected to make emissions-free shortsea shipping cost competitive with existing solutions.’

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