PowerCell to Supply Fuel Cell Systems to O.S. Energy for Research Vessel

RV Prince Madog (Image credit: Bangor University)

PowerCell, a world leader in hydrogen electric solutions with unique fuel cell stacks and systems, has signed an order for two 100 kW Marine Fuel Cell Systems from O.S. Energy for the Transship II sustainable vessel project. This order represents a significant expansion of PowerCell’s offerings into the segment of smaller commercial and leisure vessels, including both retrofits and new builds, and shows that the technology is ready for wider uptake.

This initiative focuses on retrofitting the research vessel Prince Madog with a cutting-edge hydrogen-electric hybrid propulsion system, showcasing the potential for sustainable propulsion solutions in the maritime industry.

The retrofit work is to be completed in early 2025 with a demonstration planned for March 2025. The Transship II project is supported by the UK Department for Transport as part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3)—delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

The Prince Madog, co-owned by Bangor University, is set to become a trailblazer in green maritime technology through this pioneering £5.5 million initiative. The retrofit is expected to reduce the vessel’s emissions by up to 60%, aligning with global efforts to minimize the environmental impact of the shipping industry.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of sustainable maritime technology,” stated Richard Berkling CEO of PowerCell Sweden AB. “Our Marine Fuel Cell Systems offer several benefits over traditional diesel generator sets, including zero emissions, silent operation and exceptional reliability. Additionally, our 100 kW Marine Fuel Cell System has the same footprint as conventional solutions, ensuring seamless integration into existing vessel designs. These advantages are critical as the industry moves towards greener and more efficient solutions.”

Martin Nuernberg, Managing Director of O.S. Energy (UK), stated, “We are thrilled to partner with PowerCell, a leader in fuel cell technology, to equip the Prince Madog with the latest in marine propulsion systems. This order is a critical step in our commitment to innovation and environmental responsibility, demonstrating the potential of hydrogen technology in transforming the maritime industry.”

While the large ocean-going ships that will require new fuels make up approximately 85% of the maritime industry’s carbon footprint, the other 15% are ready for decarbonization now through fuel cells. According to the International Maritime Organization, 15% of smaller shortsea vessels still represent approximately 150 million tonnes of carbon emissions emitted each year.

Fuel cells are highly efficient, converting chemical energy directly into electrical energy without the intermediate steps required for a traditional combustion process. Fuel cells also operate quietly and have minimal vibrations compared to conventional combustion engines, reducing underwater radiated noise (URN) in sensitive marine ecosystems, and making them perfect for research vessels.

The Transship II project is the largest retrofit of its kind, involving a consortium of major UK innovators in green maritime technology and hydrogen systems. The project aims to enable low to zero-emission operation of the Prince Madog in 2025, making it a model for sustainable marine research and operations.

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