European innovation project Flagships has been awarded EUR5m ($5.6m) from the EU to support the construction of two hydrogen fuel cell vessels in France and Norway.
The project includes the construction and deployment of two vessels, one in Lyon, France and the other in Stavanger, Norway.
In Lyon, Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT) will operate the hydrogen push-boat as a utility vessel on the Rhone river. In Stavanger, hydrogen will be used to power a passenger and car ferry operated by Norled as part of the local public transport network.
The funds 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 Antti Pohjoranta, senior scientist and project manager from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland who will be coordinating the project.
The project aims to enable truly zero-emission operation of the ships, and also create a solid basis for further local zero-emission transport deployment both at sea as well as on land.
In addition to the project funding, significant additional investment to build the ships is made by CFT and Norled as well as the consortium partners.
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 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,” said Bart Biebuyck, executive director of the FCH2 JU.
The consortium includes nine European partners in the maritime and technology sectors – Norled, CFT, ABB, LMG Marin, Ballard Europe, PersEE, VTT and NCE Maritime CleanTech. Additionally, Westcon Power & Automation is expected to officially join the consortium soon.
The project started in January and the hydrogen ships are expected to start operations in 2021.