The European innovation project FLAGSHIPS has been awarded €5.0M (US$5.6M) from the EU to support deploying two commercially operated zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vessels in France and Norway.
The FLAGSHIPS project will contribute to the cost of building the two vessels. 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.
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.
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 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 chief technical officer Sigvald Breivik.
This innovation project will investigate 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 several short 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.
In addition to the project funding, significant additional investment to build the ships has been made by the shipowners CFT and Norled as well as the consortium partners.
The consortium includes nine European partners, with shipowners Norled and CFT, the maritime OEM ABB, 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.
The project started on 1 January and the hydrogen ships will start operation in 2021.