Through the Aurora project Norwegian energy company BKK aims to build a complete liquid hydrogen supply chain for the maritime industry. From left: Benedicte Staalelsen Nilsen, Head of Political and Public Affairs; Ingrid Von Streng Velken, EVP innovation and development; and Bjørn Sundland, Director Business Development.
Photo: Helge Hansen / BKK

Europe’s first maritime value chain project for liquid hydrogen has been short-listed by ENOVA as one of the Norwegian candidate projects for Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

The Aurora project is a cooperation with BKK, Air Liquide and Equinor to build a complete liquid hydrogen supply chain for the maritime industry. The Aurora project covers a new build liquid hydrogen (LH2) production facility at Mongstad, in Norway, close to an Equinor refinery. Through cooperation with Wilhelmsen’s planned liquid hydrogen-powered “Topeka” ro-ro vessels, the partners will distribute LH2 from Mongstad across western Norway. Altogether Aurora plans to deliver 6 tonnes of renewable LH2 produced from electrolysis per day. This is estimated to cover the LH2 needs across western Norway in 2024-2026, while paving the way to scaling up production for additional demand. The Aurora project was initiated in 2019 with the pre-engineering phase now completed. Subject to the Investment decision, the Aurora project aims to make liquid hydrogen available for commercial shipping by early 2024.

Liquid hydrogen is expected to be a key contributor on the shipping industry’s path towards decarbonization. Projects for hydrogen operation are currently underway within cruise ships, cargo ships, offshore vessels and ferries.

– We are happy to see that the Aurora project is among the highest-rated Norwegian initiatives with regards to Enova’s selection criteria. Through the matchmaking we will be able to bring the Norwegian development work and our knowledge from the use of hydrogen in maritime to a European level, and to embed it in a larger European initiative, says Ingrid Von Streng Velken, EVP innovation and development BKK.

– Aurora is the first initiative in Europe that aims to build a complete value chain producing and using green liquid hydrogen for maritime shipping applications. Liquid hydrogen has a tremendous potential to help decarbonize maritime transport and become a zero-emission alternative for shipping, says Lars Strandberg, Vice President Hydrogen Energy Europe Industries of Air Liquide.

– Aurora is an important step on the journey towards decarbonizing the maritime shipping sector and Equinor is playing an important role both in the production of renewable liquid hydrogen as well as in stimulating the market for zero-emission shipping fuels by shifting cargoes from road-based transport to the Topeka base-to-base vessels, says Steinar Eikaas, VP Low Carbon Solutions in Equinor.

– We are happy to put forward five shortlisted candidates from Norway to the IPCEI on Hydrogen. The process over the next few months will determine which candidates will be successful in integrating into the European project and for potential funding from Enova, says Mr. Arve Solheim, head of New Markets at Enova.

IPCEI stands for “Important Project of Common European Interest”. Under this framework, set up by the European Commission, EU Member States are able to set up important cross-border projects of common European interest, that are based on notified and authorized state aid and which include major contributions to growth, employment and competitiveness of the European industry and economy. An IPCEI must pursue ambitious targets for Research, Development, Innovation, and First Industrial Deployment (FID).

Norway has joined the IPCEI initiative for hydrogen, with state-owned Enova managing the Norwegian participation. Projects that are awarded IPCEI status will be eligible for funding through national bodies and can be aided up to 100% of the funding gap based on a large set of qualified costs.

About Enova
Enova SF is a Norwegian state enterprise owned by the Ministry of Climate and Environment. The purpose of Enova is to contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions and strengthened energy security of supply, as well as technology development that also contributes to reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the longer term.

Enova can make a financial contribution to projects that utilize the newest and most climate-friendly technologies to reduce costs and risks for businesses in all sectors. Each year, Enova invests more than NOK 3 Billion of public resources in solutions that help build a green Norway for tomorrow.