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Umeå is investigating whether green hydrogen is the pathway to fossil-free shipping.

Friday, November 24, 2023

In the future, how can fossil-free bunker fuels and electric charging be provided in Swedish ports? The EU project Blue Supply Chains aims to examine the best renewable fuel solutions and their infrastructure needs within shipping, while also defining requirements for bunkering these fuels in Umeå port. Additionally, there will be a knowledge transfer of the Swedish results to other Baltic Sea ports.


Foto: Lars Lindh, Umeå hamn

Ports are a crucial component in the future sustainable transport system. Through the project, we can explore hydrogen as an enabler for a sustainable transition both locally and regionally.

Mikael Brändström, Sustainability Manager Umeå kommun

What does the future market look like for green hydrogen and other hydrogen-based fuels like e-methanol and ammonia? And what technical aspects are crucial for the production of green hydrogen? How can it become economically viable? These are questions that the newly launched project Blue Supply Chains will now investigate.

"It's an opportunity for Umeå to clarify the role of hydrogen in the future sustainable energy system," says Jan Ridfeldt, CEO, of Umeå Energi AB.

With Sweden's high ambition to become the world's first fossil-free welfare nation, greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector need to decrease significantly. Shipping accounts for substantial greenhouse gas emissions, but the industry is facing a change with increased regulations and elevated environmental and climate requirements. Within this transformation, access to fossil-free fuels is a crucial issue.

"The path toward fossil independence in shipping is lengthy, partly due to a very limited supply of alternative fuels. The ongoing developments present new business opportunities for ports, shipping companies, and energy companies, providing a competitive advantage to those enterprises leading the transition," says Linda Styhre, a researcher in maritime shipping and marine fuels, IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet.

The interest among ports and shipping companies in new solutions enabling the transition to fossil-free fuels is significant.

"There is an extensive expansion and development underway at Umeå Port. The port possesses infrastructure and areas that could be strategically important for handling hydrogen and other alternative fuels. With this initiative, we now have the opportunity to investigate both our competitive advantages in terms of existing infrastructure and the business opportunities to produce and store hydrogen in the port," says Mikael Isaksson, CEO of Umeå Hamn AB.

On project Blue Supply Chains

Blue Supply Chains is a three-year project led by Hafen Hamburg Marketing and financed via EU:s Interreg Baltic Sea Region Program. The Swedish part includes, among other things, a preliminary study which is run in collaboration between:: IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet, Kvarken Ports, Umeå Energi, Umeå Hamn, Umeå kommun and CLOSER at Lindholmen Science Park. INAB, Trafikverket, and Sjöfartsverket assist with knowledge and expertise. The project is also part-financed by Trafikverket and Stiftelsen Institutet för Vatten- och Luftvårdsforskning (SIVL).

Hydrogen Fact Box

Hydrogen has significant potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions across various industries and sectors, as the emissions from hydrogen usage result in only water vapor. Hydrogen can thus be used as an energy carrier to replace fossil fuels like gas or oil. It can also be utilized in industrial processes to replace fossil materials such as coal. However, this requires that hydrogen is produced sustainably, known as Green Hydrogen. This is ensured by using only renewable electricity to manufacture hydrogen (splitting water molecules - separating hydrogen and oxygen - through electrolysis).

Ship Bunkering Fact Box

Shipping is currently entirely reliant on fossil fuels, where nearly 100% of all fuel used is fossil-based. The annual greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping amount to approximately one billion tons of CO2 equivalents, roughly 3% of the world's total emissions. In Sweden, we have around 70,000 ship arrivals annually. Sold ship fuel accounts for an energy content of approximately 25–30 TWh.

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Camilla Sundqvist

Camilla Sundqvist

Project manager