South Korea’s first commercialized hydrogen electric boat officially unveiled

Friday, July 2, 2021

South Korea’s first commercialized hydrogen electric boat has been unveiled at the 2021 Busan International Boat Show, winning the event’s Best Boat of the Year award. Developed by Vinssen, the Hydrogenia vessel is powered by a Danfoss Editron electric drivetrain and sub-system.

In late 2020, the South Korean government announced a US$870 million initiative to encourage the development of eco-friendly shipping to reduce pollution caused by the country’s marine sector. The 2030 Green Ship-K Promotion Strategy, a central part of South Korea’s plans to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050, specifically targets the advancement and wider use of low-carbon ship technology, including hydrogen fuel cells and propulsion systems. The initiative has set a goal of reducing the country’s shipping greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in the next 25 years and 70% by 2050.

Hydrogenia is 32.8 ft long, has a maximum capacity of six people and can operate at 10 knots for six hours. The vessel’s futuristic design is based on the geometric shape and natural beauty of glaciers and rocks. It has undergone testing and demonstration at the Ulsan Hydrogen Realization Center, South Korea's only demonstration facility specialized in hydrogen piping supply. The vessel has also been presented to the country’s leader President Moon.

Danfoss Editron’s electric drivetrain system includes an EMI machine, electrical inverters and DC-DC converters. The company’s compact and lightweight technology enables space and weight savings, leaving more design freedom in small vessels such as Hydrogenia. The high efficiencies offered by Danfoss Editron’s system are also advantageous for shipbuilders as they deliver better operational performance.

Vinssen is planning to build a further 50 boats using similar hydrogen electric technology over the next year. The successful application of Danfoss Editron’s unique multiple-parallel inverters in a single machine will be used as a benchmark to deliver larger marine projects, such as ferries and tugboats.

Steve Kim, Danfoss’ Head of North East Asia, commented: “The unveiling of the Hydrogenia boat demonstrates the pivotal role we play in marine electrification, both in hydrogen and battery-powered vessels. We will continue to help South Korea achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 by contributing to the ongoing electrification of the country’s transportation industry, with a focus on its shipbuilding sector.
Our multi-function inverter modules can be easily integrated with other energy sources, such as hydrogen fuel cells, without additional costs for research and development. Our standardized inverter technology also guarantees the fastest lead time from testing to commercialization.”

Chil Han Lee, CEO of Vinssen, added: “President Moon was extremely interested in the commercialization of the Hydrogenia vessel. If the government's institutional and policy support for the commercialization of hydrogen electric boats continues, it will enable South Korea to lead the world in hydrogen ship technology that will grow into a high value-added industry.”