Posted on September 13, 2023
The Port of London Authority (PLA) has announced plans to operate a zero emissions, green-hydrogen fueled hydrographic survey vessel called ZEPHR (Zero Emissions Ports Hydrogen Refilling Survey Vessel). The innovative uncrewed surface vessel (USV) will be built with funding from the U.K.’s Zero Emissions Vessels and Infrastructure (ZEVI) competition, in collaboration with USV specialist Sea-Kit International. The ZEPHR project aims to enable vessel operation for port operators and stakeholders by utilizing 100% green hydrogen for energy transfer, from green electricity to hydrogen production, compression, storage, and dispensing.
Sea-Kit will partner with Marine2o, a renewable energy business focused on green hydrogen production infrastructure, to build the land-based infrastructure for green hydrogen production. Marine Zero will assist with regulatory compliance, as well as the design and integration of the hydrogen dispensing facility. The PLA will host the hydrogen refilling station on the River Thames in London and operate the ZEPHR vessel.
The ZEPHR USV platform will feature a high-resolution multibeam echosounder as its primary payload. It will also be equipped with the capability to mount additional sensors such as LiDAR, cameras, and environmental monitoring and sampling equipment. The vessel will have redundancy through two hydrogen fuel cell systems. The design of the vessel will undergo review by Lloyd’s Register and the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure compliance with regulations and obtain necessary approvals. Construction of the ZEPHR vessel will take place at Sea-Kit’s production facility in Tollesbury, Essex, U.K.
The project will support various initiatives, including environmental monitoring, academic and industry research programs, and the Maritime Hydrogen Highway. As part of the Thames Vision 2050, the PLA is actively working towards ambitious emissions reduction targets and embracing sustainable and efficient fuel technologies. The Thames Estuary’s significant potential usage demand across multiple sectors makes it an ideal location for the development of a hydrogen ecosystem.