In the fairway leading to the port of Stockholm Norvik, a navigation marker with an illuminated screen installed on land was equipped with a methanol fuel cell. The fuel cell is part of a pilot project as part of the EU project Intelligent Sea, which aims to increase safety and efficiency in shipping lanes through digitization.
One of four illuminated screens that direct ship traffic in the fairway to Stockholm's Norvik Port was equipped with the fuel cell unit in March. The methanol-powered fuel cell is a backup to the existing solar cell panels that supply the functions of the navigation marker. The pilot is part of the EU Intelligent Sea Project, in which Ports of Stockholm is participating with the Port of Naantali and the Finnish company Artica.
Artica has supplied all four digital smart navigation markers with backlit screens for which Ports of Stockholm is responsible. The navigation markers have a mobile internet connection and can be monitored and controlled remotely.
“This is a great example of how innovative and sustainable solutions are used in modern Stockholm's Norvik Port. By using exciting new technologies from our suppliers, backed by EU funding, we have a climate-smart solution that also contributes to improved safety at sea, ”said Fredrik Lindstål, CEO of Ports of Stockholm.
The illuminated screens, which are the focus of the pilot, are powered by rechargeable batteries connected to solar cells. Solar energy is sufficient in most of Europe and the UK to keep the smart navigation markers running year round. In the Nordic countries with the significantly darker winters, however, this pilot project is developing the possibilities of supporting the markers with methanol fuel cells in times when sunlight does not provide enough energy. While the solar cells can cover the electricity demand in the summer months, the methanol fuel cells cover the additional electricity that is needed to refill the batteries in the dark winter months.
“The methanol fuel cells help to charge the batteries in winter. This enables significantly higher energy consumption than the solar panels can generate on their own, which in turn increases the possibility of using additional devices such as weather stations, cameras and even 5G network connections, ”said Jonas Andersson, Nautical Coordinator at Ports of Stockholm.
The small fuel cells have been on the market for several years, for example as a backup solution for telecommunication systems and weather stations in remote locations as well as for private use in boats and mobile homes. The fact that the process is not more widespread in the maritime context may be due to the fact that the salt in seawater has a corrosive effect. To mitigate this, Artica has developed a filtered ventilation system which is now being tested in the navigation marker of Stockholm's port of Norvik.
The EU Intelligent Sea Project runs from 2018 to 2022. The project is funded by an EU grant from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program.