Out-Law News 1 min. read

World’s first liquefied hydrogen ship completes voyage in Japan

The world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier ship has completed its first maritime transport of liquefied hydrogen (LH2), including loading and unloading of its cargo.

The Suiso Frontier left Japan in December 2021 and arrived in Australia in January 2022. The ship received liquefied hydrogen produced from coal in Victoria, Australia, and returned to Japan in February 2022, unloading the cargo in the port of Kobe, which marked “the successful completion of the hydrogen energy supply chain (HESC) pilot project”, according to a report on the pilot.

The HESC pilot project was developed by the government of Japan, the Australian federal government and Victoria state government. It aim was to produce and transport clean LH2 from Australia to Japan, with an objective to “demonstrate an end-to-end supply chain between both countries”.

Renewables expert Karah Howard of Pinsent Masons said: “Transportation of LH2 is extremely difficult, due to the need to maintain the -253degrees Celsius temperature and compress the LH2 to 1/800 of its original gas-state volume. Therefore, this world’s first in the maritime transport of LH2 is an immense achievement.”

“HSEC is part funded by Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain Technology Research Association (HySTRA), a consortium of Iwatani Corporation, KHI, Shell Japan, J-Power, Marubeni, ENEOS, and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha. HSEC and HySTRA’s main goal and vision are to build a global hydrogen supply chain, to promote hydrogen as a fuel source. HySTRA explains that the hydrogen is produced through brown coal gasification, a low ranked coal of limited on-site applications. It is then transported to a loading facility in Port of Hastings, Victoria, for liquefaction to -253 degrees to allow for more efficient transportation and distribution of more hydrogen,” she said.

“As part of HySTRA, KHI finished construction of the liquified hydrogen carrier in 2020, to transport the LH2 9000km to Kobe, Japan. HSEC’s website states that the decision to progress to a commercialisation phase will be made in 2020s once the pilot project is completed, with operations targeted in the 2030s,” she said.

“With Korean Research Institute of Ships and Ocean engineering (KRISO) awarding two approvals in principle for liquid hydrogen fuel tanks for ships in January 2022, recognising the technology, and Shell and GTT singing a cooperative agreement to develop the hydrogen energy supply chain in February, competitors appear to be hot on HSEC / HySTRA’s heels,” Howard said.

The HSEC project is worth A$500 million (US$354m). The Australian federal government and Victoria state government provided $100m. The Japanese government and other project partners invested the remainder.

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