The European innovation project Flagships has been awarded EUR 5 million from the EU to support deploying two commercially operated zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vessels in France and Norway.
The Flagships project will be 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 one of its most demanding rivers, 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 have been granted from EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
“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.
This 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 realise 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.
“Norled has taken a leading 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” said Norled CTO, Sigvald Breivik.
In addition to the project funding, significant additional investment to build the ships is made by the shipowners 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. 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”, stated Bart Biebuyck, executive director of the FCH2 JU.
The consortium includes nine European partners, with two shipowners Norled and CFT, and the maritime OEM ABB, and design company LMG Marin. Ballard Europe will provide the fuel cell technology and vessel energy monitoring and management will be provided by PersEE. Management, dissemination activities and maritime hydrogen safety expertise will be provided by VTT and industry cluster NCE Maritime CleanTech. Westcon Power & Automation is expected to officially join the consortium soon.
The project began January 1, 2019. The hydrogen ships are expected to start operation during 2021.