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Project Explores Potential of Ocean Renewable Energy Fuel for Shipping

ocean energy to fuel shipping
Hywind is one of many offshore wind projects the major companies planto develop in Scotland (Statoil)

Published Jul 26, 2021 3:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

A new research project will investigate the potential of harnessing offshore wind and marine renewable energy to produce zero carbon-hydrogen and ammonia fuels. The University of Strathclyde will lead the multi-disciplinary Ocean-REFuel: Ocean Renewable Energy Fuels project, which will explore ways of converting ocean energy into fuels for use in heating, energy storage, and difficult to decarbonize transport applications.

The five-year research project involves 28 industrial partners, including BP, Scottish Power, National Grid, ENI along with the UK Health & Safety Executive. The goal is to produce a blueprint for the first integrated Ocean Renewable Fuel production facility.  The Ocean-REFuel project will directly address challenges associated with energy storage, renewable heat, and the decarbonization of the maritime industry as well as road transportation and aviation. The project ties in with the UK’s goal to produce more than enough electricity to power every home in the country by 2030.

“We are delighted to be awarded the Ocean-REFuel project and to bring together this formidable cross-UK team to lead the way for future hydrogen production from an almost boundless sustainable offshore resource,” said Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde and President of the Royal Academy of Engineering. “I believe this exciting opportunity will enable the UK to undertake vital research into Ocean Renewable Energy and establish it as a pioneer in the field. “

The project organized said that renewable energy technologies, such as wind, are impacted by intermittency and production issues and this project will explore storage solutions, such as hydrogen and ammonia, that can help manage the issue of intermittent supply.

Like electricity, they noted that hydrogen is an energy carrier and can be produced from a variety of sources including seawater, and used as a source of energy or fuel. They believe it can allow the stored energy to be fed back into the grid, and potentially channel renewable energy to difficult-to-decarbonize sectors such as renewable heat and transport, which account for more than 60 percent of UK energy demand.

The £10 million project (approximately $14 million) is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, industry, and the partner universities. It builds on EPSRC investment of more than £35 million ($48 million) into offshore wind power over the past decade