UK Government Grants £3.8M Funding to ACUA Ocean-Led Consortium for Hydrogen-Powered Autonomous Ships

February 22, 2023

The Hydrogen Innovation – Future Infrastructure & Vessel Evaluation and Demonstration (HI-FIVED) consortium, led by zero-emission vessel provider ACUA Ocean and zero-emission infrastructure provider Unitrove, has secured a £3.8 million grant from the UK government. The grant, part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition Round 3 (CMDC3), aims to accelerate the decarbonization of the maritime sector. The £5.4 million project, expected to be completed in autumn 2024, aims to establish a green shipping corridor between Aberdeen and the Orkney and Shetland Islands, utilizing hydrogen-powered autonomous ships for cargo transport.

The HI-FIVED consortium comprises key players in the maritime industry, including the Port of Aberdeen, the University of Southampton, Zero Emissions Maritime Technology, Composite Manufacturing and Design, Trident Marine Electrical, and NASH Maritime. Unitrove, known for creating the world's first liquid hydrogen bunkering facility, will deploy its mobile fuelling technology at the Port of Aberdeen to support ACUA Ocean in building and operating the world's first maritime autonomous surface ship powered by liquid hydrogen.

Steven Lua, CEO of Unitrove, expressed excitement about the project, stating, "Having built such a strong consortium of eight fantastic partners across the supply chain, we can have great confidence that we will deliver something truly remarkable."

Michael Tinmouth, COO of ACUA Ocean, emphasized the importance of successful technology demonstrations in reducing future investment risks in maritime decarbonization. The project aligns with the UK government's push for zero-emission shipping, supporting innovators committed to addressing climate change.

Marlene Mitchell, Commercial Manager of the Port of Aberdeen, highlighted the significance of zero-emission fuels and vessels in achieving decarbonization within the maritime sector. The project presents an opportunity for the Port of Aberdeen to act as a living lab for net-zero initiatives, addressing the theme of zero-emission infrastructure and exploring the feasibility of developing shoreside renewable energy generation.

The HI-FIVED project is part of the broader CMDC3 initiative, which allocates £60 million to 19 flagship projects supporting 92 UK organizations in delivering real-world demonstration R&D projects in clean maritime solutions. Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport of the UK, emphasized the importance of the maritime sector, contributing £116 billion to the UK economy and importing 95% of goods.

With a completion date set for autumn 2024, the HI-FIVED consortium aims to pioneer hydrogen-powered autonomous vessels and the necessary infrastructure, contributing to the UK's efforts to lead in cutting-edge clean maritime solutions. The funding received underlines the government's commitment to fostering innovation and driving the maritime sector towards a sustainable, emission-free future.