BY BO SVENSSON
During the COP15, the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009, the Viking Lady, an offshore support vessel owned by Norwegian Eidesvik Offshore, was dubbed the world’s most environmentally friendly commercial ship and the first ever with a fuel cell specially adapted for marine use.
A joint industry research and development project known as The FellowSHIP, managed by Det Norske Veritas (DNV), is behind the fuel cell installation in the Viking Lady. The program is aimed to develop and demonstrate hybrid fuel cell power packs, especially suited for marine
and offshore use.
The FellowSHIP project began in 2003, with results of the initial phase indicating that fuel cell technology could be used in commercial shipping in the near future. A full-scale pilot project for the production of auxiliary power was then planned to be put into operation in 2008 on a vessel from Eidesvik Offshore. The project was led by DNV with the participation of Eidesvik Offshore ASA, MTU CFC Solutions GmbH, Vik-Sandvik and Wärtsilä Automation Norway. In the
first phase, Wallenius Marine and Wärtsilä Corp. were involved.
With new and tougher emissions regulations being considered by the IMO and EU, demand for commercial alternatives to traditional onboard power systems has risen. Fuel cell technology is not expected to manage the issue alone, but the technology represents a vital piece of the puzzle in certain shipping segments, such as short sea, local port traffic, commuter ferries and cruise ships and offshore, among others. The technology may also enable vessels access to clean energy while in port.
Originally built in 2008, the Viking Lady has a length of just above 92 m and a breadth of 21 m. The draft is 7.6 m and the deadweight is 5900 tons. The vessel has an accommodation of 25 beds and was one of the first vessels in the North Sea to be equipped with Wärtsilä’s gas engines.
“Wärtsilä was also assigned the overall responsibility for systems integration in the pioneering FellowSHIP project and has developed the power electronics and the systems for regulating
and distributing energy from the fuel cell to the electrical network,” said Ingve Sørfonn, project manager and director R&D, Wärtsilä Ship Power Technology. “We have also delivered the distribution and control systems.”
In May 2009, the 320 kW fuel cell produced by MTU Onsite Energy GmbH arrived at the Stord yard in Norway. Here, it was integrated with Wärtsilä’s technology and tested. During this land testing, all operational modes, shutdown conditions and dynamical behavior were tested and verified in accordance with the specifications.
The Viking Lady is the first commercial ship with a fuel cell specially adapted for marine use. The fuel cell enables the ship to generate energy more efficiently and reduces emissions into the environment. Compared to a traditional ship, the Viking Lady has reduced NOx emissions by 180 tonnes.
SOx emissions are eliminated entirely and CO2 emissions are reduced by 20%. A fuel cell has few moving parts and hence operates much more quietly than traditional engines. “The fuel cell technology is designed to increase efficiency and leads to a considerable reduction in emissions. Fuel cell technology of this power size has never before been installed in merchant
vessels, and this highly innovative project is unique on a world scale,” said Atte Palomäki, group vice president, Communications & Branding, Wärtsilä Corp. “We have been involved in fuel cell technology since the mid-’90s, specializing in systems integration.”
The only “exhaust” from the fuel cell is heat and water. If it is used for carbon-containing fuels such as natural gas, the flue gases contain CO2, but up to 50% less than diesel engines with bunker oil as fuel. Fuel cell technology is free from noise and vibration. Fuel cell technology is also modular, so that systems can be adapted for efficient utilization of space onboard. A