Skip to main content

Live Tides

All tide tools


View all

Incident reporting

Life-threatening emergencies on the river:
Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

For near miss, safety observations and incident reporting click below


Make a report
pink clouds water reflection

Maritime Hydrogen Highway

Sea, land and port smart integration

A ground-breaking three-year, £2.1 million development programme -- looking at the scope to establish a national hydrogen highway network

Maritime Hydrogen Highway aims to support the development of clean maritime technology, in line with the Government’s strategic vision for the future of the maritime sector Maritime 2050.

Eight core partners are investigating six key areas in energy diversity research, trialling hydrogen power generation for vessels, establishing the business case for marine transport of hydrogen, ship design and health & safety requirements.

It runs from late 2021 to autumn 2024.

The objectives of the Maritime Hydrogen Highway programme are:

  • to test, model and develop smart, safe and economic solutions for:

    1. offshore hydrogen production
    2. transportation of hydrogen into urban and port areas
    3. autonomous vessel solutions to maximise the efficiency

    in order to demonstrate these solutions in the future

  • to develop and demonstrate the safe and effective use of hydrogen as a source of energy in a constrained maritime site
  • to produce scalable UK wide solutions from lessons learnt in the project with appropriate frameworks to adopt clean fuels and smart technology to keep the UK ports and maritime sector competitive in a growing worldwide market.

Data sharing

The programme will provide opportunities for fast-paced, comprehensive development of knowledge, shared through the publication of reports.

Knowledge sharing

Tools, checklists and models will be developed at the end of the programme for wider use by operators, ports, investors and strategic planners in order to develop successful, safe and integrated routes for the adoption of zero emission fuels in UK ports and coastal waters.

Project partners

There are eight organisations participating in the Maritime Hydrogen Highway programme.

PLA Logo

Work packages

Package 1: Maritime demand distribution

One of the major challenges for hydrogen to be adopted is achieving production at the right scale to meet demand and with the right type of chemical carrier for the purpose it is being used for. While not innovative in itself, the programme intends to lead the analysis from feasible scenarios to meet the demand challenge and make sure any solution can be scalable, rather than on the basis of building supply in the hope demand will appear.

1A – Maritime demand distribution
Lead partner: Port of London Authority (PLA)

Specific sites on the Thames have already been modelled for their capacity, safety and constraints for various fuel types, providing context as to the mix based on a strategic mapping exercise completed by the PLA. For the Hydrogen Highway programme, a case study will assess the scope for Cory to move hydrogen by water into the City of London. This provide a proxy for movement of hydrogen; data generated will be used in Work Packages 4 & 6.

1B – Land-port-sea integration
Lead partner: Newcastle Marine Services
Supporting partners: University of Strathclyde, OS Energy, Port of Blyth, Port of Milford Haven, ORE Catapult

Summary of small scale/transitional areas of opportunity (inland fleet) spatial analysis outcomes alongside the larger scale storage areas of opportunity, from previous PLA work

Combining the practical experience of port and ship operators with the requirements of autonomous maritime systems will highlight the key interfaces for data transfer and communication between major stakeholders in a proposed national hydrogen highway network. The Work Package aims to deliver a comprehensive review of the soft- and hardware requirements in a roadmap style framework, helping to assess the current state of readiness and plan future developments.

Package 2: Demonstration of alternative power and fuel

While fuel cell technology is generally maturing, to our knowledge, it has not been used in the maritime sector for the provision of power to vessels. This will be the first time that fuel cell power has been used on the Thames and in the Port of London, and potentially in the UK for maritime operational purposes. The energy demand of a vessel needing instant power is seen as one of the challenges of fuel cells in the time is takes to build up the power outputs, so combining the system with battery storage at a minimal level reduces the risk for operators. The energy usage and the systems response will be mapped and monitored throughout the trial to understand the opportunities or challenges faced by use of such as system for this purpose.

Lead partner: PLA, harbour fleet operation, with regional ports and port associations.

A fuel cell generator system will be installed at the PLA’s Denton Wharf and used in place of existing diesel generators by both the PLA and tenants, towage operators, Svitzer. Data on energy transfer and fuel usage, alongside training requirements and lessons learnt will be captured for mapping to wider port applications, reflecting how limitations of the location may be overcome and what may be present in others. The energy and fuel use data will flow into Work Packages 4 & 6 for further use.  A sub-contractor will support with fuel cell and fuel, as well as air quality monitoring.

Package 3: Offshore hydrogen generation

A major innovative aspect of offshore generation of green hydrogen is the design of modular offshore generation platforms. Three main units – production, storage, and bunkering – are designed as add-ons, which can be easily upscaled and fitted to various offshore wind projects and platform types.

Two case studies are designed to look at the most likely variations in platform design. The first is a retrofit of the required modules to an existing, bottom fixed oil & gas platform in close proximity to existing offshore wind farms with relatively close distance to shore. The second, a new design of a floating platform that can be used on a wider range of wind farms, located further from shore in deeper waters to accommodate the developments of the UKs floating offshore wind industry in the decades to 2050. Both designs will be evaluated against the alternative of transporting electricity to shore or connecting large offshore structures to the national grid by means of existing or new pipeline networks.

Lead partner: University of Strathclyde
Supporting Partners: OS Energy, Newcastle Marine Services Ltd, ORE Catapult

Provide an assessment of the hydrogen generation capabilities for a range of offshore wind farm locations and develop a concept design for modular generation, storage and offloading units for integration into standard offshore platform design. Separate case studies are conducted for retrofitting existing Oil & Gas platform and developments of novel floating offshore wind platforms, assessing the various options for hydrogen storage and transport and provide recommendations on the ideal combinations for key operational scenarios. Larger infrastructure characteristics around the UK will be included in the judgement such as existing structures, pipeline networks and readiness of ports and industrial areas to accommodate large amounts of energy generated offshore.

Package 4: Business case and economic model

As with many new technologies or cargoes, the smaller the supply chain, the higher the cost, limiting the return on investment, or indeed case for investment at all. The model being designed on the basis of information generated in other work packages will help identify ways to facilitate supply at an economical level for businesses to adopt the fuel and provide the service.

Lead partners: University of Kent and Connected Places Catapult

Supporting partners: PLA, Port of Blyth, Port of Milford Haven, UK Major Ports Group, British Ports Association, City of London Corporation, Cory Group.

Work Package includes an economic & social impact assessment of the benefit of local businesses and services, jobs and employment, as well as the benefit to public health. Using the Thames as a proxy for other inland waterways, ports and harbours in order to create a usable model for the different types of chemical carriage options and modes of vessel (both autonomous and return freight) to provide hydrogen by vessel into the capital and the South East.

Package 5: Autonomous ship & mooring systems

To support a seamless and safe offloading of hydrogen from the offshore platform to Autonomous Network Transport at Sea (ANTS) ships (or from ANTS ships to ports), an automated berthing and mooring system is proposed, which can be easily fitted to the offshore platform, as well as an existing port.

The system relies on hardware development, bridging the critical distance, in the order of tens of metres, between ship and shore, or ship and platform, where currently human intervention through tugs, winches and other manually controlled technologies is provided to safely moor the vessel at its location. In addition to the design of the hardware, the required software and data programme will be developed, and its fully autonomous operation demonstrated in scaled testing in world leading experimental facilities.

Lead partner: OS Energy

Supporting Partners: University of Strathclyde, Newcastle Marine Services Ltd

Through the work a modular, scalable design will be presented for smart, emission-free ANTS ships, along with a soft- and hardware-based technology, allowing seamless operation of autonomous vessels for mooring, berthing and cargo operations in port and at sea.  The scope for autonomous operations will be demonstrated at model scale in state-of-the-art laboratory test.

Further detail:

Ship Design – currently there are no ships available on the market which are designed to specifically transport hydrogen as part of a short sea network. The presented concept design of ANTS ships will fill this gap with new design developments, incorporating zero emission technologies, modular design approaches and digital systems from the outset, leading to a proof of concept of the offshore generation and transport of green hydrogen to shore. A review of hydrogen carriers will be conducted and included in the choice of fuel for the vessel itself.

Autonomous Ship – an autonomous system, a novel time-optimal path planning and tracking control method based on nonlinear model predictive control (MPC) and spatial reformulation will be proposed to demonstrate advanced features. Specifically, as an advanced predictive controller, the nonlinear MPC optimises the berthing path to a minimum time mathematically at the planning stage and compensates the uncertainty disturbance during the tracking process. Implementing this control system to the ANTS ships will enable a fully autonomous and safe transport of offshore green hydrogen to shore.

Package 6: Safe marine carriage

While assessments for safety are not intrinsically innovative, the approach being taken to use the case studies to help create ‘score cards’ or ‘traffic light’ tools for any port, inland waterway operator, terminal operator or local council to use is significantly beneficial to the safe and rapid adoption of clean fuels.  It will increase the potential for the supply to be met partially from sea to land.

Lead partners: The Health and Safety Executive, PLA, OS Energy, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, University of Birmingham, Air Products, University of Strathclyde

Using a scenario-based approach for hydrogen to be transported into the Port; its conditions; storage conditions and capacities onboard incoming ships and at the Port; arrangements for ship-to shore transport; arrangements for bunkering. The approach will allow for the identification of hazards and potential safeguards to apply to alternative scenarios.

Progress update: April 2023

Work Package 1

Progress update

Beginning in March 2022, Newcastle Marine Services (NMS) undertook a data collection exercise, seeking to gather data from all the project partners and supporters with regards to key questions about the project.

This consultation, with data gathered via data collection forms, was then summarised in the Maritime H2 Hydrogen Highway Roadmap document, issued in April 2022.

Since this first issue, periodic updates have been added, to cover significant progress made in the previous period. The last update was issued in March 2023, with the next scheduled for May 2023. This will continue until the end of the project.

The original documents and the updates are intended to serve as a brief record of the progress made across the project, and a reference for all partners given the scope of the project and the number of partners involved, to allow everyone connected with the hydrogen highway to better understand the various aspects of the project and how each work package is progressing.

Topics covered so far, and updates provided, include:

  • Feedback from UK ports regarding their views on hydrogen storage, use and transportation from their sites.
  • Review of economic considerations for the generation of offshore power.
  • Review of hydrogen storage formats, and the decision matrix for the selection.
  • Refinement and specification of the offshore generation platforms.
  • Progress made in the mapping of the end-user network on-land.
Work Package 3

Progress update: Offshore Hydrogen System

Work Package 3 of Marine Hydrogen Highway project aims to design an Offshore Green Hydrogen System (OGHS) as the offshore terminal for the offshore H2 highway. This system integrates hydrogen production, storage, and offloading modules on a centralized offshore platform. Two designs have been proposed to meet the offshore hydrogen demand in the UK:

  • A newly designed floating concept. It will be operated in deep Scottish water, serving as a centralised platform for a floating wind farm.
  • A bottom-fixed platform. It is retrofitted from an oil and gas rig, serving an existing wind farm in shallow water close to the rig.

The modular design is adopted for these hydrogen platforms, which enables excellent scalability of the designed concept. The main add-on modulars include the hydrogen production, storage, and offloading units. In order to create a seamless land-sea interface for hydrogen transportation, the project proposes to adopt compressed hydrogen solution, and the containerised storage tanks can be effectively transported from the platform to the hydrogen transfer vessels with the assistance of a pre-installed crane on board. These hydrogen containers then can be transported to the ports with minimum land-based infrastructures before they reach the end users on land.

The key partners involved in this WP include the University of Strathclyde, OS Energy and ORE Catapult.

Diagram of Offshore Green Hydrogen System
Work Package 4

Progress update: Business case and economic model

A core task and deliverable within WP4 corresponds to the development of the supply chain and distribution network design and optimisation with the objective of minimising the cost of each kg H2 that is ultimately delivered at the downstream of the hydrogen highway to the end users, i.e., at hydrogen refuelling points. Alongside any cost minimising solution, the optimisation module aims to minimise the total life cycle emissions, or in case of observed conflicts, to strike a right balance between cost and emission objectives.

For a seamless sea and land integration of the hydrogen highway through multimodal transportation, containerised storage of compressed gaseous hydrogen (i.e., CH2) provides the greatest level of flexibility. Containerised CH2 can be transferred between production points to vessels, and from vessels to trailer trucks for landside operations. With this key understanding, UoK has been able to draft an initial modelling framework well in advance of its scheduled tasks, which will be appropriately populated with the input parameters and data as the project evolves.

As is shown in the example representation in the Figure, the developed supply chain and distribution network design module will yield a clear configuration of the chain entities and their interaction specifying a number of outputs such as the optimal location, size, and technology of production facilities, the optimal location, size, and technology of storage/terminal facilities, and the optimal transport modes linking production, storage, and distribution (i.e., demand points).

Supply chain diagram
Work Package 6

Progress update: Safe marine carriage

Work Package 6 of the Marine Hydrogen Highway is currently focussed on the identification of infrastructure scenarios; several discussions and a workshop (20/11/2022) with the WP partners have been undertaken to complete this task. The approach taken has considered how a hydrogen network infrastructure could evolve since the start of its deployment. Therefore, three scenarios representing theoretical short term, medium term and long term infrastructure have been developed for further study.

The gathered information as part of this activity will be taken forward to a series of hazards workshops, in which the potential hazards of the identified infrastructure scenarios will be evaluated. Specialists from different disciplines and different organisations will take part in the hazards workshops (18/04/2023 and 04/05/2023).

It is acknowledged that the concepts presented and the assumptions made in the infrastructure scenarios may present technical challenges and may not reflect what is developed in the future; however, the intention of developing these concepts is for them to be used to identify potential hazards that could be derived from the elements included in the infrastructure. In addition, the differences in the three scenarios are intended to explore different options and their impact on hazards.

Progress update: September 2023

Work Package 3

Progress update

Professor Longbin Tao presentingProfessor Longbin Tao and Dr Ming Zhang from the Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean & Marine Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, attended the OMAE2023 Conference in Melbourne in June 2023. OMAE, the International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, has been the leading annual event to showcase leading edge innovations and technological achievements in offshore engineering for over four decades.

At OMAE2023, they presented their research findings regarding the offshore hydrogen system in Work Package 3 and were pleased to report that they received positive feedback on their work. Their attendance of this conference serves as concrete evidence of their growing influence within the academic realm.

For further information, follow this link to their conference paper.

Progress update: December 2023

Work Package 6

Progress update: Safe marine carriage

Workshops for the identification of potential hazards in a future representative hydrogen maritime highway were completed. These sessions considered three types of operation that could occur in this environment, according to the hypothetical representative infrastructure definition that was proposed in the previous stage of the work: hydrogen storage, hydrogen bunkering and movement of containers.

After the completion of these workshops, it was decided that three hazard scenarios could be further explored in a subsequent set of safeguards workshops: loss of containment, fire and explosion. Workshops were undertaken to identify potential safeguards that could be considered in the proposed infrastructure to help prevent or mitigate the effects of the corresponding hazard scenarios.

Currently, a report summarising the findings of the work completed in this work package is being drafted.

Progress update: February 2024

Work package 3

Progress update

Conceptual design of an offshore hydrogen platform.


  • Discuss the potential of a centralised offshore hydrogen platform for offshore energy.
  • Firstly propose a modularised design for offshore green hydrogen platform.
  • Illustrate a 100-MW case study of modularised offshore hydrogen platform.


Offshore green hydrogen emerges as a guiding light in the global pursuit of environmental sustainability and net-zero objectives. The burgeoning expansion of offshore wind power faces significant challenges in grid integration. This avenue towards generating offshore green hydrogen capitalises on its ecological advantages and substantial energy potential to efficiently channel offshore wind power for onshore energy demands.

However, a substantial research void exists in efficiently integrating offshore wind electricity and green hydrogen. Innovative designs of offshore hydrogen platforms present a promising solution to bridge the gap between offshore wind and hydrogen integration.

Surprisingly, there is a lack of commercially established offshore platforms dedicated to the hydrogen industry. However, the wealth of knowledge from oil and gas platforms contributes valuable insights to hydrogen platform design. Diverging from the conventional decentralised hydrogen units catering to individual turbines, this study firstly introduces a pioneering centralised Offshore Green Hydrogen Platform (OGHP), which seamlessly integrates modular production, storage, and offloading modulars. The modular design of facilitates scalability as wind capacity increases. Through a detailed case study centred around a 100-Megawatt floating wind farm, the design process of offshore green hydrogen modulars and its floating sub-structure is elucidated. Stability analysis and hydrodynamic analysis are performed to ensure the safety of the OGHP under the operation conditions. The case study will enhance our understanding OGHP and its modularised components. The conceptual design of modular OGHP offers an alternative solution to “Power-to-X” for offshore renewable energy sector.

The published paper is financially supported by Maritime Hydrogen Highway Project sponsored by MarRI-UK (SMLO01):

Hydrogen highway wp6 figure 2Hydrogen highway wp6 figure 6

Progress update: April 2024

Work package 5

Progress update: LinkedIn post shared by MarRI-UK

MarRI-UK maritime hydrogen highway project testing collage

"MarRI-UK are delighted to share a momentous update from the Hydrogen Highway project, led by the Port of London Authority. On March 20th, 2024, the University of Strathclyde successfully conducted a test demonstration, showcasing the feasibility of adopting hydrogen-fueled container ships for transporting containerized hydrogen between offshore green hydrogen platforms and ports.

The successful showcase of the Autonomous Network Transport at Sea (ANTS) ship marks a pivotal moment. It highlights the viability of autonomous berthing as a solution for offshore hydrogen transport. Autonomous ANTS ship operations provide enhanced efficiency for offshore transportation, thus bolstering the UK's competitiveness in the global maritime market. Moreover, this initiative champions the adoption of clean fuels and smart technologies within offshore hydrogen platform networks, positioning it as a crucial component of the Maritime Hydrogen Highway.

Not only does this milestone underscore the potential for clean energy solutions and our commitment to innovation and sustainability within the maritime network but also emphasises the collaborative efforts of our project consortium members with the Port of London Authority, HSE and ORE Catapult all in attendance. As the MaRI-UK Hydrogen Highway project continues its success, we are proud to be part of a project that not only advances technological boundaries but also contributes significantly to a cleaner and smarter future."

Essential information

Receive key updates

Subscribe Now
Back to top