The European innovation project Flagships has been awarded EUR 5 million (USD 5.6 million) from the EU to support deploying two commercially operated zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vessels in France and Norway.
The project contributes to building two newbuild vessels, one in Stavanger, Norway, and one in Lyon, France.
The hydrogen ships are expected to commence operation during 2021.
In Stavanger, hydrogen is intended to power a passenger and car ferry operated by Norled as part of the local public transport network.
In Lyon, a hydrogen push-boat operated by Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT) will serve as a utility vessel on one of its most demanding rivers, the Rhône.
As informed, the funds awarded to the Flagships project have been granted by the EU’s Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020 under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU).
In addition to the project funding, significant additional investment to build the ships is made by the shipowners as well as the consortium partners.
Green and sustainable shipping is a prerequisite for reaching national and international emission reduction targets. With increasing pressure for shipping to reduce harmful emissions, fuel cells and hydrogen are key technologies in providing a sustainable transportation option for the international shipping industry.
“Both the EU and the shipping industry see hydrogen as a key contributor in the work to mitigate climate change. The Flagships project will be of high importance when it comes to demonstrating the technology, business viability and social acceptability of zero-emission shipping based on hydrogen fuel cells,” Hege Økland, NCE Maritime CleanTech CEO, commented.
NCE Maritime CleanTech was one of the initiators of the FLAGSHIPS project which started in January this year and all four Norwegian partners are member of the cluster.
The project aim is that both vessels will run on hydrogen produced from renewable energy. This will not only enable truly zero-emission operation of the ships, but also create a solid basis for further local zero-emission transport deployment both at sea as well as on land.
“Norled has taken a … role in the development of zero emission ferries. 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 onshore and marine system integration activities the project will also reduce the cost of marine fuel cell power systems significantly,” Sigvald Breivik, Norled CTO, said.
The project will look at the possibility to replace biodiesel 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 realize the 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.
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.
“The project will cooperate with relevant organisations 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,” Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the FCH JU, explained.
The project consortium includes nine European partners, with two shipowners Norled and CFT, and the maritime OEM ABB, and design company LMG Marin.
Fuel cell technology is provided by Ballard Europe and vessel energy monitoring and management by PersEE. Management, dissemination activities and maritime hydrogen safety expertise are provided by VTT and industry cluster NCE Maritime CleanTech.
Furthermore, Westcon Power & Automation is expected to officially join the consortium soon.