Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen

Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen
Companies are beginning to develop a new generation of vessels that can deliver hydrogen to heavy industry. (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 12 May 2021

Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen

Too cold to handle? Race is on to pioneer shipping of hydrogen
  • There are at least three projects developing pilot ships that will be ready to test transporting the fuel in Europe and Asia within the next three years

LONDON: Hydrogen is touted as an inevitable green fuel of the future. Tell that to the people who’ll have to ship it across the globe at hyper-cold temperatures close to those in outer space.
Yet that is exactly what designers are attempting to do.
In the biggest technological challenge for merchant shipping in decades, companies are beginning to develop a new generation of vessels that can deliver hydrogen to heavy industry, betting plants worldwide will convert to the fuel and propel the transition to a lower-carbon economy.
There are at least three projects developing pilot ships that will be ready to test transporting the fuel in Europe and Asia within the next three years, the companies involved told Reuters.
The major challenge is to keep the hydrogen chilled at minus 253 degrees Celsius — only 20 degrees above absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature — so it stays in liquid form, while avoiding the risk that parts of a vessel could crack.
That’s almost 100 degrees Celsius colder than temperatures needed to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG), which required its own shipping revolution about 60 years ago.
Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries has already built the world’s first ship to transport hydrogen, Suiso Frontier. It told Reuters the prototype vessel was undergoing sea trials, with a demonstration maiden voyage of some 9,000 km from Australia to Japan expected in coming months.
“There is the next phase of the project already running to build a commercial-scale hydrogen carrier by the mid-2020s, with an aim to go commercial in 2030,” said Motohiko Nishimura, Kawasaki’s vice executive officer.
The 1,250 cubic-meter tank to hold the hydrogen is double-shelled and vacuum-insulated to help maintain the temperature.
Kawasaki’s prototype, a relatively modest 116 meters long and 8,000 gross tons, will run on diesel on its maiden voyage but the company aims to use hydrogen to power future, larger commercial vessels, Nishimura said.
SUPER-STRENGTH STEEL
In South Korea, one of the world’s major shipbuilding hubs, another project is in the works.
Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering is the first company in the country working on building a commercial liquefied hydrogen carrier, a company spokesperson said.
To tackle the hyper-cold challenge, the company said it was working with a steelmaker to develop high-strength steel and new welding technology, along with enhanced insulation, to contain the hydrogen and mitigate the risks of pipes or tanks cracking.
On the other side of the world, in Norway, efforts are also underway to build a hydrogen supply chain on the west coast of the country, with one group looking to pilot a test ship that could transport hydrogen to planned filling stations, which would be able to service ships as well as trucks and buses.
Norwegian shipping company Wilhelmsen Group is working on the latter project with partners to build a “roll-on/roll-off” ship that will be able to transport liquid hydrogen by way of containers or trailers that are driven onboard, said Per Brinchmann, the company’s vice president, special projects.
The ship is expected to be operational in the first half of 2024, he added.
“We believe once we have this demonstration vessel operational the intention will be to build up bunkering hubs on the west coast (of Norway),” Brinchmann said, referring to the filling stations.
Other companies are exploring a different route to avoid the cold conundrum and what may happen when hydrogen atoms interact with metal.
Canada’s Ballard Power Systems and Australia’s Global Energy Ventures, for example, are working together to develop a ship to transport compressed hydrogen in gas form.
“The earliest timeframe would be 2025/26,” said Nicolas Pocard, vice president marketing and strategic partnerships with Ballard.
The advantage of this gas approach is that it does not require any extreme temperatures. But the downside is that less hydrogen can be transported in a cargo than liquid hydrogen, which is why some of the early movers are opting for the latter.
Wilhelmsen’s Brinchmann said that a 40-foot container would carry about 800-1,000 kg of pressurized hydrogen gas, but up to 3,000 kg of liquid hydrogen.

Complex and costly
Such endeavours are far from risk free.
They are expensive, for a start; none of the companies would comment on the cost of their vessels, though three industry specialists told Reuters that such ships would cost more than vessels carrying LNG, which can run to $50-$240 million each depending on size.
“The cost of a vessel transporting hydrogen will mainly be driven by the cost of the storage system. Storing liquid hydrogen could be very expensive because of its complexity,” Carlo Raucci, marine decarbonization consultant with ship certifier LR, added separately.
The pilot projects, which are still in experimental stages, must overcome these technical challenges, and also rely on hydrogen catching on as a widely used fuel in coming years.
None of this is certain, though the state support being thrown behind this cleaner-burning fuel suggests it does have a future in the global energy mix.
More than 30 countries, including several in Europe such as France and Germany as well the likes of South Korea and Australia, have released hydrogen rollout plans.
Total planned investments could reach over $300 billion through to 2030 if hundreds of projects using the fuel come to fruition, according to a recent report by the Hydrogen Council association and consultants McKinsey.
The role of shipping would be important to unlocking the potential to convert industries such as steel and cement to hydrogen.
Those two heavy-industry sectors alone are estimated to produce over 10 percent of global CO2 emissions, and overcoming their need for fossil fuels is one of the key challenges of the global transition to a lower-carbon economy.

Faster than LNG?
Tiago Braz, VP energy with Norwegian marine technology developer Hoglund, said the company was working with steel specialists and tank designers on engineering a ship cargo system that can be used for transporting liquid hydrogen.
“We are at the early stages with hydrogen carriers. But unlike when LNG was first rolled out, the industry is more flexible to change,” Braz said.
“It should be a faster transition,” he added.
Specialists say the development of LNG took decades before it was fully rolled out, partly due to the infrastructure and ships required and the few companies willing to invest initially.
Companies active in wider shipping markets are also looking at the possibility of diversifying into transporting hydrogen in the future.
Paul Wogan, chief executive of GasLog Partners which is a major player in LNG shipping, said it was “open-minded” about moving into hydrogen, while oil tanker owner Euronav said it was examining future energy transportation.
“If that energy is hydrogen tomorrow, we would certainly like to play a role in the emerging industry,” Euronav’s CEO Hugo De Stoop said.
Others such as leading ship-management company Maersk Tankers said they would be open to managing hydrogen shipping assets.
Johan Petter Tutturen, business director for gas carriers with ship certifier DNV Maritime, said his company was involved in concept studies for the transport of hydrogen in bulk at sea.
“It’ll be some years before these projects come to fruition, but if hydrogen is to be a part of the future fuel mix then we have to begin exploring all possibilities now.”


Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
Updated 13 June 2021

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France

Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
  • Of the financing, 776 million euros came from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD
  • The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo

CAIRO: Egypt has signed 1.7 billion euros ($2.06 billion) worth of deals with France to finance projects in the transportation, infrastructure, electricity and wholesale sectors, the cabinet said on Sunday.
Of that financing, 776 million euros will come from the French government and 990 million euros from AFD, France's development agency, the cabinet said.
The signings came during a visit by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire to Cairo.
In May, France announced a 4 billion euro deal to deliver 30 Dassault warplanes to Egypt beginning in 2024, strengthening ties with what it considers a vital partner in fighting Islamist militants.
Projects announced on Sunday by the cabinet include sanitation stations as well as a number of railway projects, including the provision of 55 new cars for the Cairo metro's oldest line and the construction of a railway line between Aswan in southern Egypt and Wadi Halfa in neighbouring Sudan.
AFD will provide 150 million euros in support of Egypt's universal health insurance programme, the cabinet said. ($1 = 0.8260 euros)


UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
Updated 13 June 2021

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1

UAE builder Drake & Scull returns to profit in Q1
  • This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region

DUBAI: Dubai contractor Drake & Scull International (DSI) recorded a net profit of 115 million dirhams ($31.3 million) in the first three months of the year.
This represents a return to profit from a net loss of 30 million dirhams for the same period in 2020, driven by ongoing operations across the region, including in countries such as Tunisia, Palestine, Kuwait, and Iraq.
DSI also recorded revenues of 46 million dirhams and the order backlog remained stable at 376 million dirhams, it said in a statement.
Drake & Scull was hit hard by the regional construction downturn since 2014 and has been involved in lengthy financial restructuring and cost cutting.
It signed contracts worth 376 million dirhams earlier this year.


PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
Updated 13 June 2021

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive

PIF boosts senior management team in expansion drive
  • The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday

RIYADH: The Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, on Sunday announced several new senior appointments, just days after it also created two new deputy governor roles as part of its expansion drive.

The fund announced the appointment of Eyas Al-Dossari and Omar Al-Madhi as senior directors to its MENA investments division, and Abdullah Shaker as senior director to the global capital finance division.

Al-Dossari joins PIF from his position as managing director and head of investment banking for Goldman Sachs Saudi Arabia, where he served since 2017. He also previously worked at HSBC Saudi Arabia and the initial public offering and merger and acquisitions department at the Saudi Capital Market Authority.

Al-Madhi previously held senior positions at Abdul Latif Jameel Investments, Volkswagen Group, McKinsey & Company and Saudi Aramco. He is chairman of the board and executive committee of the Saudi Fisheries Company and is also a member of the board of the National Agricultural Development Company, which are both part of PIF’s portfolio.

Shaker joins PIF from Saudi Al Baraka Banking Group and has almost 25 years’ experience in banking and financial services, having worked for Deloitte, HSBC Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabia Capital Market Authority.

The latest appointments follow the creation of two new deputy governor roles, announced last Tuesday.

Turqi Al-Nowaiser, who heads the international investments division, and Yazeed Al-Humied, who leads the MENA investments division, will take on the deputy governor roles alongside their current responsibilities at PIF.

“The latest appointments bolster the PIF leadership team, as it implements its ambitious plans as one of the world’s largest and most impactful investors, with the stated aim of reaching AUM (assets under management) of more than $1.07 trillion, while investing $40 billion annually into the local economy through 2025,” the PIF said in a statement on Sunday.

The fund announced in December 2020 that its total employee count surpassed 1,000, up from about 700 at the start of 2020 and 40 five years ago. It said that about 84 percent of its employees were Saudi citizens and 26 percent were women.

The PIF has grown to $430 billion AUM since 2016 and has invested about $90 billion into the Kingdom’s economy over the last five years, creating more than 331,000 new direct and indirect jobs.


Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
Updated 13 June 2021

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year

Dubai utility provider to boost clean energy capacity this year
  • The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MWThe government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1

DUBAI: The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) said it was adding 600 megawatts (MW) of clean energy capacity to the emirate’s power mix this year.

The government agency will use photovoltaic solar panels and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) to achieve a total capacity of 1,614 MW, it said in a statement.

Half of the additional capacity will be from the 5th phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum solar park. The rest will come from a 262-meter CSP tower and a parabolic trough.

Upon delivery of the projects, clean capacity in Dubai’s energy mix will reach around 10 percent in July, and 12 percent by the end of the year.

“This supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide 75 percent of Dubai’s total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050,” DEWA’s CEO Saeed Mohammed Al-Tayer said.


G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
Updated 13 June 2021

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations

G7 split on reallocating $100b IMF funds to COVID-hit nations
  • Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders

CARBIS BAY, England: Group of Seven leaders were trying to resolve differences over a proposal to reallocate $100 billion from the International Monetary Fund’s warchest to help countries struggling to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
An almost final version of the G7 communique seen by Reuters showed Germany and Italy had yet to back the inclusion of the $100 billion figure in the final statement by leaders.
The IMF’s members agreed in April to a $650 billion increase in IMF’s Special Drawing Rights and the G7 countries are considering whether to reallocate $100 billion of their rights to help poor countries fight the COVID pandemic.
SDRs are the IMF’s reserve asset, and are exchangeable for dollars, euros, sterling, yen and Chinese yuan or renminbi. Member states can loan or donate their SDR reserves to other countries for their use.
The head of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, told reporters on the sidelines of the summit that she had been heartened by the G7’s support for the plan and that she expected a clear indication later on how best to proceed, adding that the $100 billion target had been in discussion.