Mongstad Industrial Park has been selected as the location for what could become Norway’s first production plant for liquid hydrogen serving the maritime market. The first users of the hydrogen are envisaged to be two common goods carrier vessels under development by Wilhelmsen group.

In 2019, a consortium led by BKK was awarded a grant by public funding scheme PILOT-E to develop a complete liquid hydrogen supply chain in Norway for maritime applications. Mongstad Industrial Park, one of the largest industrial areas in Norway, has now been chosen as the candidate production and liquefaction site.

The Topeka conpect: The first users of the hydrogen planned to be produced at Mongstad are envisaged to be two common goods carrier vessels under development by Wilhelmsen group.

Mongstad is ideally located in Vestland county on the west coast of Norway, close to customers in the maritime sector. It also offers promising opportunities for expansion to meet future increase in demand for liquid hydrogen. Furthermore, the park allows the project to maximize industrial synergies, as it is also close to project partner Equinor’s Mongstad refinery.

The investment decision on the plant is expected to be made already at the end of 2020. The consortium partners are in parallel developing solutions for storage and transportation to end users in the maritime sector. The project aims to make liquid hydrogen available for commercial shipping by early 2024.

Common carriers planned to be first offtakers
Liquid hydrogen is considered to be one of the low-carbon solutions that can decarbonize heavy-duty transportation such as ships. The first user of the hydrogen produced at Mongstad is envisaged to be the common carrier concept “Topeka” currently under development by Wilhelmsen.

As consortium partners, and to explore possibilities for the decarbonization of transport, Wilhelmsen and Equinor conducted a feasibility study on how vessels fueled by liquid hydrogen could serve Equinor’s base-to-base logistics. The concept foresees two ships transporting equipment and materials mainly between onshore bases in Stavanger in Rogaland county and Mongstad. The ships could replace a substantial number of the trucks currently driving between the bases, offering a considerable reduction in emissions and enhancing road safety. Wilhelmsen plans to take an investment decision on the vessels towards the end of 2020, depending on sufficient grants from public sources and sufficient market interest. The project also aims to set up hydrogen terminals at NorSea Group supply bases along the coast to secure hydrogen availability also for other vessels.

“Hydrogen as a fuel enables opportunities for low- or zero-emission shipping. The Topeka shortsea concept types with zero-emission voyages up to 400 nautical miles will provide useful experience for all vessel types. The hydrogen terminals will contribute to removing barriers for the oil and gas industry as well as other sectors to invest in hydrogen solutions,” says Jan Eyvin Wang, Senior Vice President in the Wilhelmsen group.

“This is a very important project at a very challenging time for the offshore and maritime industry. It can represent the beginnings of a large Norwegian hydrogen industry that will create new jobs and strengthen Norwegian maritime suppliers’ competitiveness in a global market, where decarbonization of shipping is high on the agenda,” says Ingrid von Streng Velken, Corporate Director Innovation and Development at consortium leader BKK.

“With this project the partners are taking steps to create a hydrogen value chain. As an energy producer, Equinor’s ambition is to reduce net carbon intensity from our products all the way from initial production to final consumption, and we believe hydrogen can be part of the solution in the maritime sector,” says Sturle Bergaas, Vice President at Equinor’s Mongstad refinery.

“We are proud to be part of the world’s first large-scale, low-carbon liquid hydrogen project for maritime applications. This partnership also illustrates Air Liquide’s contribution to meet the challenge of the energy transition and clean transportation by offering an alternative energy solution, in line with the Group’s climate objectives,” says Frederic Despreaux, Vice President, Cluster Northern Europe & CIS countries at consortium partner Air Liquide.

About the consortium
The project consortium is led by sustainable energy company BKK, together with key partners Air Liquide and Equinor. Wilhelmsen and NorSea are developing the flexible liquid hydrogen distribution concept, including zero-emission ships and storage and bunkering terminals at the NorSea supply bases. The terminals will also enable supply to other types of end-users such as buses and heavy-duty transport. Other project participants are ferry and fast-ferry operator Norled and Viking Ocean Cruises, as potential hydrogen customers for their vessels, cluster organization NCE Maritime CleanTech, Arena Ocean Hyway Cluster and research institution NORCE.

PILOT-E is a funding scheme for the Norwegian business sector launched as a collaboration between the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway and sustainable energy agency Enova SF. Its objective is to promote more rapid development and deployment of environment-friendly energy technology products and services to help to reduce emissions both in Norway and internationally.