Ballard Power Systems is collaborating with ABB and other consortium partners to develop and launch a hydrogen fuel cell-powered river push boat in France.

Part of European innovation project Flagships, the river push boat will be owned and operated by Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT) in Lyon. It will be used to push river barges on the river Rhône.

European project to deploy two hydrogen vessels

Planned for deployment in 2021, Ballard will deliver two of its next-generation 200 kilowatt fuel cell modules in 2020, which will provide propulsion power for the vessel.

The project has the objective of demonstrating that fuel cell-powered propulsion offers a cost effective and practical zero emission solution for owners and builders of mid-sized vessels carrying more than 100 passengers or the equivalent freight volumes inland or coastally.

Jesper Themsen, President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems Europe, said the company is continuing to experience “growing interest” around zero emission solutions for the marine industry, with the river push boat being another example.

Maritime transport is estimated to emit approximately 940 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. There is increased pressure for the shipping industry to deploy means of reducing harmful pollutants.

Jostein Bogen, Product Manager for Fuel Cells at ABB Marine & Ports added, “Once the fuel cell power plant has been fitted, the plan is to run this vessel daily, with special attention being paid to the refuelling procedures needed to meet the operating schedule.”

“Trials will therefore also provide valuable insights into developing and optimising the refuelling infrastructure needed for hydrogen fuel cells in marine operations, in line with ABB’s vision that both fuel cells and battery power represent ship propulsion’s electric, digital and connected future.”

This project is supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), a public private partnership established under Europe’s Horizon 2020 frameworks to accelerate commercial realisation of the technology in a range of transport and energy uses.

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The FCH JU also receives support from Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe research.