The European innovation project FLAGSHIPS has been awarded €5m (US$5.6m) from the EU to support the deployment of two commercially operated zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vessels in France and Norway. The project started on January 1, 2019 and the ships will start operation in 2021.
The FLAGSHIPS project contributes to the building of two new build vessels, one in Lyon, France and one in Stavanger, Norway. In Lyon, a hydrogen push-boat operated by Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT) will serve as a utility vessel on the Rhône. In Stavanger, hydrogen is intended to power a passenger and car ferry operated by Norled as part of the local public transport network.
The funds awarded to the FLAGSHIPS project come from the EU’s research and innovation program Horizon 2020 under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking. Significant additional investment to build the ships is being made by CFT and Norled as well as the consortium partners, which include ABB, LMG Marin, Ballard Europe, PersEE, VTT and NCE Maritime CleanTech.
“Both the EU and the shipping industry see hydrogen as a key contributor in the work to mitigate climate change. The FLAGSHIPS project sets out to raise the readiness of hydrogen-powered waterborne transport to a new level globally,” said senior scientist and project manager Antti Pohjoranta from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, who will be coordinating the project.
The project’s main aim is for both vessels to run on hydrogen produced from renewable energy. This will not only enable zero-emission operation of the ships, but will also create a basis for further local zero-emission transport deployment at sea as well as on land.
The project will also look at the possibility of replacing 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 shore charging required for battery-powered vessels. Norled’s intention is to apply 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.
Furthermore, the project will build European support networks covering hydrogen fuel supply chains, vessel design and manufacturing competence networks as well as offering broad 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 among the most critical,” said Bart Biebuyck, executive director of the FCH JU. “The project will cooperate with relevant organizations 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.”