Seminar on hydrogen solutions for inland and short sea shipping

The H2SHIPS project organised a seminar on hydrogen solutions for inland and short sea shipping on October 29th in Paris. The event was followed by a lunch cruise on the Seine – and lively, informal discussions between the participants. The presentations of the event are available in the event section here.

The Seminar was opened with a welcome speech by Antoine Berbain, director of HAROPA Ports | Paris.

HAROPA joined the H2SHIPS consortium as one of the first stakeholders. The project helped HAROPA to have a better understanding of regulatory issues related to the use of hydrogen as a fuel in port areas. One of the objectives of HAROPA is to accompany stakeholders from the river sector in the use of alternative fuels. Its role is to support the deployment of a production and distribution infrastructure for hydrogen along the river Seine and to allow for the refuelling of boats. In 2021, HAROPA launched a call for projects dedicated to the installation of refuelling stations for hydrogen and other renewable fuels on 5 sites owned by the port. The results of this call will be announced in early 2022.

The first part of the event focussed on the role of French waterway infrastructure, with two presentations by Joffrey Guyot and Olivier Burel from Voies navigable de France (VNF).

VNF is a public institution. Its main missions are to develop logistics and the transport of goods, and to ensure the management of French waterways and the preservation of biodiversity. VNF set up a subsidy programme called PAMI (“Plan d’aides à la modernisation et à l'innovation de la flotte”) to reduce emissions of pollutants and GHG, to promote innovation, and to accelerate the implementation of more efficient energy systems onboard ships. VNF is currently working on its future subsidy/funding programme which will cover the period 2023-2027 and will have a total budget of 30 million €. Furthermore, VNF is involved in several projects related to digitalisation and the transformation of the vessel fleet operating on French waterways, to improve navigation and drastically reduce GHG emissions in inland shipping.

The second part of the seminar was dedicated to the H2SHIPS project. The session started by a presentation of the Interreg programme NWE by Rebecca Grossberg from the Joint Secretariat Interreg NWE. It was followed by a general presentation of the project by coordinator Christian-Frédéric Berthon from EIFER and a talk on the pilot in the port of Amsterdam by Klaas Visser from the University of Technology Delft.

The Interreg NWE Joint secretariat presented key figures of the current programme. In total, there are 8 hydrogen-related projects (including H2SHIPS) funded under Priority 2 ”Low carbon” (implementation of transnational low carbon solutions in transport systems to reduce GHG-emissions in NWE). The new Interreg NWE programme covering the 2021-2027 period will be launched soon: the first call will open in March 2022 and will focus on 5 priorities. A public draft version of the future Interreg programme can be viewed here.

The lead partner of H2SHIPS, Christian-Frédéric Berthon (EIFER), recalled the main objectives and activities of the H2SHIPS project, which aims at developing a value chain in the region North-West Europe to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen as a fuel for inland and short sea shipping. Technical studies and pilots are performed to see what the most appropriate technologies are, and training materials are developed to support capacity building. Another objective of H2SHIPS is to contribute to the development of a favourable regulatory framework to ease the approval process of new ships and support ports and ship operators who want to shift from fossil fuel to hydrogen-based systems.

Klaas Visser (TU Delft) explained that the Dutch partners of the port of Amsterdam (PoA) opted for NaBH4 (also called sodium borohydride) because this energy carrier is stable and safe under atmospheric conditions, a key advantage compared to liquefied and compressed hydrogen. Sodium borohydride will be transformed into hydrogen by mixing it with pure water. Hydrogen will then be used as fuel onboard a newly built port vessel (see picture below) owned by PoA which will be battery-electric and have a fuel cell system as range extender. The port vessel which will be built in 2022 will sail in the Amsterdam urban and port area starting 2023.

The last part of the seminar was dedicated to three other hydrogen ship initiatives. The session was opened by Joep Beukers from Maritime Hydrogen who presented a feasibility study on the use of sodium borohydride as energy carrier for a cargo ship and was followed by a presentation by Victor Laravoire from Sogestran on the Zulu boat funded under the Flagships project. The last presentation was given by Milinko Godjevac from Future Proof Shipping, currently retrofitting an inland cargo vessel with a Hydrogen propulsion system.

Joep Beukers stressed that hydrogen needs to be easy to handle, safe, and be able to be bunkered in every type of port. Therefore, Maritime Hydrogen, a Dutch company specialised in the design of process and equipment of marine propulsion systems, investigates the use of sodium borohydride as a fuel for the Ms Pioneer (see picture below), a cargo ship sailing between the ports of Rotterdam and Casablanca. The objective of this study is to examine what the impacts in terms of emissions and costs are. Mr. Beukers pointed out that sodium borohydride is a promising energy carrier but that challenges need to be addressed to make it viable for business: the spent fuel regeneration economics, the required fuel bunkering infrastructure and logistics as well as the loss of cargo capacity due to the spent fuel treatment and storage units.

Flagships, a FCH JU funded project running from 2019 to 2023, aims at building two hydrogen powered ships: a cargo vessel operating in Paris – Zulu (see picture below) - and a ferry in Norway (this second pilot is on hold). The project should contribute to increase the technology readiness levels of hydrogen powered, zero-emission ships. As part of the project requirements, the ship must be in operation for a period of at least 18 months and the fuel must be 50% green hydrogen. Victor Laravoire from Sogestran explained that the Zulu ship will be fitted with a 400 kW PEM fuel cell system and a storage system for green compressed H2. As of October 2021, the ship is under construction: the hull is being built in Romania, and the commissioning of the propulsion system will take place in France afterwards. It is expected to enter operation by May 2022 and serve clients in the fields of construction, e-commerce and express mail service.

Future Proof Shipping (FPS) is a Dutch company which charters zero-emission inland and short-sea vessels and provides consultancy services to companies wanting to move to zero emission shipping. FPS will retrofit an existing inland vessel, a container/dry cargo vessel (see picture below) which operates between Belgium and the Netherlands. The ship retrofit is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 2.000 tons annually. Detailed measurements of the existing ship were performed to best understand the consumption pattern and select the most appropriate technology and size it accordingly. Based on the power profile, FPS opted for compressed hydrogen and PEM fuel cells. The selected configuration includes an 825 KWe PEM fuel cell system, batteries for additional power and start up power, and 1.100 kg storage unit of compressed hydrogen (swappable hydrogen container tanks). Milinko Godjeva indicated that the HAZID study was completed and CCNR issued recommendations to continue with the approval process. The ship is expected to sail by mid-2022.

The H2SHIPS project would like to thank the speakers and participants of this seminar and looks forward to 2022, an exciting year when several hydrogen powered ships will be commissioned in the EU. More dissemination events and seminars will be held in the coming weeks and months to foster knowledge exchange and accelerate the uptake of hydrogen solutions in inland and marine shipping in NWE. We encourage our partners and followers to regularly check our news on our webpage and social media channels to be informed of our upcoming events.

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