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The Cornwall Marine Hydrogen Centre is a European funded project at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, dedicated to testing the marinisation of hydrogen systems for small to medium vessels. 

Boost for Hydrogen Industry in the Marine sector

A pioneering new research and testing facility, designed to drive the replacement of fossil fuels with hydrogen in the marine and boating sector, is set to be launched in Cornwall.

The Cornwall Marine Hydrogen Centre is a European funded project at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, dedicated to testing the marinisation of hydrogen systems for small to medium vessels. 

It is a world-first independent Centre for hydrogen components and systems aimed at leisure boats and small commercial vessels.   

The global maritime industry relies on oil, and has a huge challenge to decarbonise.  International shipping is charged with a 40% reduction by 2030, but there is also a need for change in smaller fishing vessels, ferries, and pleasure boats.  

Electric vessels are an option, but rely on a land-based electrical connection and have long recharge times.  A hydrogen-electric system provides a practical and lighter solution, with fast and easy refuelling and much greater range.  

However standard hydrogen equipment is designed for use on land, not in a damp and salty environment.  Marinisation needs to be designed in, tested, and proven.  Now there will be a Marine Hydrogen Centre to help do just that. 

Cornwall is renowned for its maritime history, and hosts the National Boat Collection at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, where the University of Exeter has a globally respected renewable energy and marine energy faculty.   

Now, with a programme put together with international clean energy specialists Pure Energy Professionals, grant support has been secured from the European Regional Development Fund, Priority Axis 1 Research and Innovation.  

The Centre will cover everything from refuelling, storage, fuel cells, controls, motors and drives will be able to be tested in top quality facilities under simulated real-world conditions.  

Professor Richard Cochrane, from the University of Exeter said “Worldwide, there are over 30 million boats under 15 metres in length so the challenge, and market, is huge.  We believe we can contribute greatly to any company’s development programme aimed at this sector.  This is a natural extension to our existing sea energy test Centre, world class mooring and sub-sea cable test bed, and hydrogen knowledge base”.   

“We have been progressively decarbonising electricity worldwide for over 30 years” said Bruce Woodman of Pure Energy Professionals. “Now, governments, companies and private individuals all want to find a way to do the same in transport – but much quicker.  Green hydrogen from renewable energy enables zero carbon propulsion, but in the marine sector there are special conditions to be taken into account and fully researched.  Equipment and system providers need somewhere to get this done, and we will provide that capability”.   

Find out more about masters study in Renewable Energy at the University of Exeter - https://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/engineering/renewableenergyengineeringmsc/

Date: 10 June 2021

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