Why are you using hydrogen?

The maritime industry is roughly as polluting as Germany, which is the sixth most polluting country in the world. The industry must undergo an energy transition, that much is clear.

We believe hydrogen has a key role to play in this transition. As a fuel, hydrogen has qualities that make it a great choice for certain use cases. It can be generated with 100% renewable energy, has a high energy to weight ratio and can be stored for a long period of time. In cases where a lot of energy is needed over a long period of time without refuelling or recharging, such as deep-water shipping, hydrogen is an important (part of the) solution.

We’re not saying hydrogen is the only, best or even our favourite option. It is simply the best choice for particular use cases, the water taxi being one of them.

Why aren’t you using batteries? Isn’t it more efficient to use the electricity generated rather than convert it to hydrogen?

Indeed, the electrolysis of water to create green hydrogen is an energy intensive process and it would be more energy-efficient to use green electricity directly. However, batteries are similar not applicable for all use cases. The weight to energy ratio and charge times of our current batteries limit the performance in such a way that they become unviable for particularly uses, such as our water taxi.

Almost all hydrogen produced today is grey. How can you claim to use it sustainably?

We didn’t start the water taxi project for hydrogen, but green hydrogen. While most of the world’s hydrogen is today produced from fossil fuels, more and more examples of large-scale green hydrogen production are popping up. Increasing demand is a crucial part of that development, SWIM’s hydrogen-electric marine propulsion system will accelerate the growth of this demand.

Is it not simple too expensive to use green hydrogen?

Right now, you would be right. Green hydrogen is expensive, because not a lot of it is produced. A plant in Amsterdam produces just a couple of kg green hydrogen a day, not enough to fuel the energy transition.

The price of green hydrogen is tied directly to the price of green electricity. As the renewable energy capacity increases across the world, green hydrogen will only get cheaper.

This also comes with an added bonus, thanks to a ‘problem’ we face with renewable energy.

When the wind blows, it blows… When the sun shines, it shines! Renewable sources generate electricity even when there is no demand. In moments of high production and low demand energy prices fall, sometimes to prices below 0!

In these moments users get paid for using electricity, by generating green hydrogen we can capture the full potential of renewable energy production. This is not a rare occurrence, in February 2021 alone Germany suffered €50 million in losses due to negative energy prices. The production of green hydrogen is a great way create much needed demand.

But it's been claimed that hydrogen works as a greenhouse gas, and is 11 times more powerful than CO2!

You’ve read the headlines and seen the dramatic claims. On the surface they do appear shocking, not the best news for a zero-emission fuel?

However, SWIM’s system leaks a negligible amount of hydrogen. Less that 1% of all hydrogen used as fuel is emitted as hydrogen. This means that over 9 hours of sailing, just 140 grams of hydrogen are lost this way. In comparison, every litre of diesel leads to approximately 123 grams of C02 emissions.

If a global hydrogen economy were to replace the current fossil fuel-based energy system with our leakage rate of 1%, it would produce just 0.6% of the climate impact.

Why are you working alongside fossil fuel industry players?

We can’t afford to do without! The fossil fuel industry possesses the knowledge, capacity, skills and capital we urgently need to rapidly execute the energy transition.

By leveraging the ample resources these industry players have, we can rapidly test, execute and scale sustainable energy solutions to our pollution problems. The industry knows it faces increasing regulation and it is in their interest, as much as ours, to enable a more sustainable way of doing things.

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