First hydrogen cargo vessel to debut in Paris

Image: Flagships

Flagships, a European engineering group, will launch the world’s first commercial hydrogen cargo transport vessel on the Seine River in Paris. Commercial activities are scheduled to begin in 2021.

The French inland shipowner Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT), a subsidiary of the Sogestran Group, will own the hydrogen cargo transport vessel. In the Paris region, the organization is currently developing a new market for urban delivery using transport vessels.

“The demand for more sustainable technologies in inland waterway transport is on the rise. As part of the Flagships project, we are happy to be leading the way on reducing emissions from transport and demonstrating the superior features of hydrogen fuel cells in waterborne applications.”

Matthieu Blanc, director of CFT.

“Green and sustainable shipping is a prerequisite for reaching national and international emission reduction targets. Ships powered by renewable hydrogen will make a substantial contribution to reducing emissions from shipping and improving air quality in cities and other densely populated areas.”

Jyrki Mikkola, Flagships project coordinator, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland.

The Flagships initiative received EUR 5 million in funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program in 2018 as part of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) to launch two hydrogen vessels in France and Norway. The original proposal for the project was to install a hydrogen push-boat in the Lyon region, but as the larger scope for hydrogen in cargo transport became clear, the demo pusher was changed to an inland cargo vessel. The proposed vessel would be responsible for transporting goods on pallets and in containers along the Seine River.

The change of focus is focused on Sogestran Group’s experience in Belgium, where Blue Line Logistics (BLL), another Sogestran Group affiliate, runs three freight vessels under the concept name “Zulu.” One Zulu vessel has already been placed into service in Paris, and two more Zulu ships are currently being built for the same market.

One of the newbuilds scheduled for delivery in September 2021 will be outfitted with a hydrogen power generation system as part of the Flagships program. Blue Line Logistics expects the ship to run on hydrogen by the end of 2021.

“As we move through the energy transition, hydrogen technologies are gaining traction in the maritime sector. Flagships is a very exciting project for us, since it is leading the way to demonstrate how vessels operating on green hydrogen can decarbonise urban rivers. By translating technological innovations into commercial operations we can make zero-emissions inland vessels a reality in every European city.”

Bart Biebuyck, executive director at FCH JU.

The vessel would run on compressed hydrogen produced by electrolysis, allowing not only zero-emission operations but also laying the groundwork for further local zero-emission transportation, both at sea and on land. ABB Marine & Ports will supply the power generation system for Zulu, while Ballard will supply the fuel cells. LMG Marin is in charge of detail concept sketches, with hydrogen supplied by suppliers in the Paris region.

The Flagships consortium includes 11 European partners, with two shipowners, Norled (NO) and CFT (FR) assisted by its support company Sogestion (FR) and Sogestran (FR); the maritime OEM and integrator companies ABB Marine & Ports (FI) and Westcon Power & Automation (NO); and ship design company LMG Marin (NO & FR). World-leading fuel cell technology is provided by Ballard Europe (DK), with vessel energy monitoring and management by Pers-EE (FR). Management and dissemination activities are provided by VTT (FI) and NCE Maritime CleanTech (NO), respectively.

Nedim Husomanovic

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