FPS launches zero-emission hydrogen-powered cargo barge


Dutch shipowner Future Proof Shipping (FPS), the EU-funded Flagships project, and the Interreg-funded ZEM Ports NS project launched the H2 Barge 2, a container vessel powered by green hydrogen on a major cargo route between the Netherlands and Germany.

Last year, Future Proof Shipping launched its first inland shipping container vessel that’s powered by green hydrogen. The barge is quite large at 110 x 11.45 meters and had its old combustion engine replaced with electric motors, hydrogen tanks, a fuel-cell system, and batteries.

The H2 Barge 1 began operating in June 2023, running between the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a BCTN inland terminal in Meerhout, Belgium.

Now, the company is working on another retrofit project called the H2 Barge 2 in collaboration with the EU-funded Flagships project and ZEM Ports NS. The retrofitting is being done at the Holland Shipyard Group’s Werkendam facility near Rotterdam, where all combustion engines and fossil fuel tanks are being replaced with a 100% green-hydrogen-powered propulsion system. The new system will use six 200-kW fuel cells from Ballard Power Systems and generate 1.2 MW of power for the motors.

“Inland waterways are important for freight transport in Europe; we are thrilled to see a high-power container vessel being converted to zero-emission. The H2 Barge 2 will bring knowledge on how to retrofit vessels from diesel combustion to zero-emission alternatives by using batteries in combination with green hydrogen in a fuel cell. I am proud to see that our funding contributes to the decarbonization of freight transport in the European Union,” says Mirela Atanasiu, Executive Director ad interim of Clean Hydrogen Partnership.

H2 Barge 2 is expected to have an impact on reducing CO2 emissions when sailing the Rhine. This barge is estimated to reduce 3,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, and it’s great to see that much of the fleet can already be fully zero-emission, particularly given that 80% of cargo flows on the Rhine sail between Rotterdam and Duisburg.

“We’ve been working hard for several years to get to this point. Having the first demonstrator on the Rhine is truly a great achievement by Future Proof Shipping and the rest of the partners. The aim of the Flagships project is to take zero-emission waterborne transport to an entirely new level. Now we’re one important step closer to reaching our goal,” says Flagships Project Coordinator and Senior Scientist at VTT, Jyrki Mikkola.

The second demonstrator vessel in the Flagships project, Zulu 06, is expected to launch in Paris in 2024. The company aims to build and operate a total of 10 zero-emission inland/short-sea vessels over the next five years.