Renewable Energies and a Hydrogen Fuel Cell to Power a Ferry

A ferry powered by a hydrogen fuel cell capable of storing electricity produced by renewable energies could provide a service between the Island of Ouessant and the continent by 2020.

bateau - hydrogene - barillec marine Barillec Marine, a VINCI Energies Business Unit specialised in energy conversion and management on ships, is working on an innovative project: using a hydrogen fuel cell to store the electric energy generated by renewable energy sources and to redistribute this energy in a seagoing ship. Codenamed “Nøé”, for a “zero emission ship”, this 35-metre ferry will have a 4-hour charge.

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell: Storing and Redistributing Renewable Energy

Storing the surplus energy from a renewable energy source such as a wind turbine is the problem this design is intended to solve. Two 1-MW cells, currently in development, will be used on the ferry, providing a power capacity of 300 kW.

A prototype of the boat will also be built: “It will be a half model of the boat, which will enable us to simulate all of the future machine components and the hydrogen room”, explains Maurice Buttet, the manager of the Barillec Marine Business Unit. “The idea is to test the responsiveness of the cells, the heat they generate and how we might possibly recuperate this heat, as well as how to operate the cells and deal with possible break-downs. This will also enable us to address regulatory aspects”. Before the ferry is put into commission, which is planned for 2020, the cell will also be tested to see how it operates with sea water and resists to salt.

On this project, Barillec Marine is working in partnership with the other companies: Coprexma, Piriou, Symbio FCELL, l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure Maritime and Pen Ar Bed. “We are not builders but rather solution designers. We assemble “bricks”, that is to say equipment provided by suppliers which we choose with great care and adapt to create the optimal system, by relying a great deal on the software, the mastery of which is one of the mains keys to success for energy savings on a ship”, explains Maurice Buttet. The Business Unit belongs to the Actemium network, the VINCI Energies brand dedicated to the industry sector.