Clean maritime: reducing emissions and protecting biodiversity

Credit: ACUA Ocean

Clean maritime startup, ACUA Ocean, has developed a long-range autonomous surface vessel powered by liquid hydrogen to provide security monitoring and data collection.

By 2030 the blue economy is projected to be worth around US $3 trillion and create 237 million full-time jobs. Yet currently, we lack the technology to sustainably and cost-effectively protect and manage our oceans.

A scalable solution

Autonomous uncrewed surface vessels (USVs) have the potential to provide a scalable solution to managing and monitoring maritime activities. Most USVs, however, rely on diesel generators, which means they are unable to spend long periods at sea.

ACUA Ocean has designed a long-endurance USV, powered by liquid hydrogen, allowing the vessel to remain at sea for over 70 days before needing to refuel.

The use of hydrogen also reduces operational CO2 emissions by up to 99.3%, without sacrificing power.

As well as providing a physical deterrent at offshore wind farms and construction projects, it can be used to monitor marine life and collect environmental data.

Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC)

The ‘Demonstration of Ultra-long-endurance Hydrogen-powered Uncrewed Surface Vessels’ project is part of the CMDC, funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

The CMDC was announced in March 2021.

It is part of the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan to position the UK at the forefront of green shipbuilding and maritime technology.

The competition is a £23 million investment from government alongside a further £10 million from industry to reduce emissions from the maritime sector.

55 projects across the UK

The programme is supporting 55 projects across the UK, including projects in:

  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland
  • the south-west to the north-east of England.

As set out in the Clean Maritime Plan (2019), government funding has been used to support early-stage research relating to clean maritime.

The programme will be used to support the research, design and development of zero emission technology and infrastructure solutions for maritime and to accelerate decarbonisation in the sector.

Key investor in British technology

Mike Tinmouth, Managing Director at ACUA Ocean, said:

It would be really difficult, if not impossible, for an early-stage startup like us to achieve this type of ambitious project without access to innovation funding.

We see ourselves as being a key investor in British technology and part of the government’s solution to tackling climate change and protecting biodiversity.

This project also has the potential to create a significant number of highly-skilled, cleantech jobs in the maritime industry.

This is through the reskilling of mariners from the fishing and defence industry and from geographically remote and rural communities to become USV operators.

Watch our video to find out more about how ACUA Ocean is developing its long-range autonomous surface vessel.

Last updated: 18 November 2021

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