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Project ‘Flagships’ to deploy world’s first hydrogen powered commercial cargo vessel in Paris

08 Apr 2021

European innovation consortium Flagships on Wednesday (7 April) said it will deploy the world’s first hydrogen fuelled commercial cargo transport vessel to serve a route on the Seine in Paris. Commercial operations are set to commence in 2021.

The vessel will be owned by French inland shipowner Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT), a subsidiary of the Sogestran Group. The company is currently developing a new business for urban distribution with transport vessels in the Paris area.

The vessel will operate on compressed hydrogen produced from electrolysis, enabling not only zero-emission operations, but also creating a solid base for more local zero-emission transport, both at sea and on land.

“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,” said Matthieu Blanc, director of CFT.

“Green and sustainable shipping is a prerequisite for reaching national and international emission reduction targets,” added Flagships Project Coordinator Jyrki Mikkola from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

“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.”

The power generation system for Zulu will be supplied by ABB Marine & Ports, with fuel cells from Ballard. LMG Marin is responsible for detailed design drawings, with hydrogen provided by suppliers in the Paris region.

The Flagships project was awarded EUR 5 million of funding in 2018 from the EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020, under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), to deploy two hydrogen vessels in France and Norway.

The project’s initial plan was to deploy a hydrogen push-boat in the Lyon area, but as the broader potential for hydrogen in cargo transport emerged, the demo pusher was changed to an inland cargo vessel. The new vessel will be tasked with moving goods on pallets and in containers along the river Seine.

“As we move through the energy transition, hydrogen technologies are gaining traction in the maritime sector,” added Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director at FCH JU.

“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.”

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).

The fuel cell technology for the project 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.

Photo credit: Flagships
Published: 8 April, 2021

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