A project deploying two zero emission hydrogen fuel cell vessels in France and Norway has been awarded €5m of funding from the European Union (EU).
European innovation project Flagships will build a hydrogen push-boat operated by Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT) in Lyon, which will serve as a utility vessel on the river Rhône.
In Stavanger, the project will deploy a passenger and car ferry operated by Norled as part of the local public transport network.
The funds awarded to the project have been granted from EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).
“Both the EU and the shipping industry see hydrogen as a key contributor in the work to mitigate climate change,” said Senior Scientist and Project Manager Antti Pohjoranta from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland who will be coordinating the project.
“The FLAGSHIPS project sets out to raise the readiness of hydrogen-powered waterborne transport to a new level globally.”
Norled’s Chief Technology Officer Sigvald Breivik added, “This innovation project will be an important next step when it comes to proving the maritime fuel cell technology and illustrating its business viability.”
“By leveraging knowhow from existing on-shore and marine system integration activities the project will also reduce the cost of marine fuel cell power systems significantly.”
This innovation project will look at the possibility to replace bio-diesel with hydrogen on one of the ferries to be built for the Finnøy-route north east of Stavanger.
The route serves several islands with short and several stops, which makes it difficult to realise effective shore charging required for battery-powered vessels.
Norled’s intention is to apply the hydrogen technology being developed by the company in several other ongoing hydrogen-related projects, such as building the world’s first ship powered by liquid hydrogen for the Hjelmeland connection in Western Norway.
In addition to the project funding, significant additional investment to build the ships is made by the ship owners CFT and Norled as well as the consortium partners.
An important part of the project will also be the building of European support networks covering hydrogen fuel supply chains, vessel design and manufacturing competence networks as well as significantly broad-based regulatory expertise.
“Flagships is a key project to demonstrate the superior features of hydrogen fuel cells in the maritime sector: Lower CO2 and pollutant emissions and reduced noise amongst the most critical,” Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the FCH JU, said.
“The project will cooperate with relevant organisation such as CESNI, IMO and certification bodies to speed up the introduction of hydrogen for the maritime sector both for inland and coastal operations and for freight and passenger transportation.”