H2SHIPS Event at the EU Hydrogen Week Flagship Expo

The H2SHIPS project organised a seminar on hydrogen applications for shipping on October 26th in Brussels in the frame of the EU hydrogen week. The event was followed by a joint lunch. The presentations of the event are available in the event section here.

The seminar was opened by lead partner EIFER. Christian-Frederic Berthon held a general project presentation and Klaas Visser (TU Delft) and Jan Allaert (Port of Ostend), presented the pilot Amsterdam and pilot Ostend respectively.

The H2SHIPS coordinator recalled that hydrogen powered pilot boats are not something new but that first projects emerged in the early 2000’s in Hamburg and Amsterdam. Unfortunately, due to hard-to-remove barriers and legal issues, these projects were not sustainable and had to be stopped. The Interreg NEW project has set itself three main objectives:

  1. Understand what is needed for a successful hydrogen transition in shipping
  2. Convince ship owners and operators, port authorities etc. to participate in hydrogen projects and invest in hydrogen applications
  3. Demonstrate new solutions supporting the uptake of hydrogen as alternative fuel in shipping.

The port of Ostend has moved to an energy hub in recent years: more than 2.2 GW of installed offshore wind capacity are in operation nearby the port and more than 800 employments are directly connected to this new industry. The O&M activities have today a considerable environmental footprint since most of the service vessels run on fossil fuels. Since the lifetime of wind parks is being extended and environmental impacts play a greater role when awarding tenders related to the building and operation of offshore wind turbine, more and more service vessels shift to alternative fuels. Port of Ostend wants to support this transition by building a hydrogen refuelling station. The building permit was issued in April 2022, and it is expected that the station will be fully operational by mid-2022. A hydrogen fuelled crew transfer vessel – the Hydrocat – is already operational and two more will go into service in the coming months.

The pilot Amsterdam consists in the design and construction of a new port vessel – the Neo Orbis –powered with a battery pack and a hydrogen system as a range extender. It will come with a special feature: the storage of hydrogen in the form of a powder (sodium borohydride), which when mixed with purified water releases hydrogen that is later converted into electricity by a fuel cell system. The certification of the ship was performed by Lloyd’s Register and the building of the ship by the shipyard Next Generation started in 2022. The next steps include factory acceptance tests of the propulsion system at the MARIN test centre and sea acceptance tests when the ship is fully built and integrated. There are two complementary projects linked to the Neo Orbis boat: the H2CARGOSHIP project to scale up the innovative propulsion system to adapt it to cargo vessels and the BORE2REACTOR project dealing with the regeneration of the spent fuel seeking to improve its reusability rate.

The second part of the event focussed on other EU projects and initiatives dealing with the energy transition of inland shipping. The session was opened by Alex Vredeveldt (TNO) who presented the SHIPDRIVE project. Patrick Krieger (EE Energies GmbH) presented the CEF-funded project RH2INE and the session was closed by Arno Treur (NPRC) who held a presentation on ANTONIE: The world’s first dry bulk barge powered by green hydrogen.

The SHIPDRIVE project, funded by the Dutch government, was kicked off in 2021 and lasts until 2025. The main objective is to develop concept designs for a wide variety of ship types (shortsea shipping, passenger vessels, special purpose vessels) by considering various methods of hydrogen storage system (e.g. liquified, compressed). The consortium is composed of a mixture of research organisations, fuel cell providers, industrial partners developing storage systems as well as ship owners. A particular focus of the project is safety of hydrogen systems. Current rules adopted by International and European regulatory bodies such as IMO and CESNI state that highly flammable fuels like hydrogen should not be used onboard ships unless it can be demonstrated that sufficient precautions are taken allowing to meet most stringent safety requirements for fossil fuels. TNO would like that the shipping industry makes use of the concept of risk matrix for the assessment of risks associated with new hydrogen-based propulsion systems. TNO is currently developing a new risk methodology building upon the HyRAM methodology which will help to evaluate the likelihood and severity of hydrogen-related risk events.

RH2INE is a cross border initiative from the Dutch province of South Holland and the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia aiming to promote the use of hydrogen along the Middle and Lower Rhine. It is a platform for discussions and knowledge sharing that publishes reports, organises events such as the RH2INE conference end of September in Duisburg and networks with further EU regions. Recently, new partners from South Germany and Belgium joined the network. The RH2INE platform looks at the whole hydrogen ecosystem and helps leverage public funding, aims at increasing public acceptance and developing standardised systems for hydrogen supply and use. The RH2INE network sees swappable hydrogen containers as a promising solution for hydrogen supply onboard inland vessels operating on the Rhine. These containers could also be used to address other market segments such as heavy vehicle transport in port areas.

NPRC is the first inland shipping cooperation in the EU with more than 145 members and more than 200 barges sailing daily carrying dry bulk, containers, and cargo. Today inland shipping faces a dilemma: on the one side it has to adapt to new regulations related to the use of alternative fuels. On the other side shipping is heavily dependent on landside infrastructure and is a capital-intensive industry that makes change difficult because of the high investment needed to green the fleet. Therefore, NPRC launched the WEVA project, a dry bulk barge equipped with a hydrogen electric propulsion system that can also sail using a battery pack and a diesel engine. The barge will transport salt on the Dutch channels between Rotterdam and Delfzijl in the North-East of the country. Key bricks of the propulsion sytem: a swappable container for hydrogen supply, a fuel cell system (400 kW) and a battery pack (1000 kWh allowing for increased range of 9 hours). The hydrogen consumption per trip is 1.2 tons. The ship hull is currently under construction in China and it is expected that the barge will enter service by mid-2023. This will lead to a reduction of 880 tons of CO2 and 8 tons of NOx per year compared to fossil fuelled barges. Besides NPRC, four stakeholders are part of this innovative project: the barge operator and owner Lenten, Nobian which charters the boat and provides hydrogen, HyEnergy TransStore responsible for hydrogen compression and storage, and Hyplanet as accounting partner (collecting and redistributing fees) in charge of the energy trading under the Dutch Energy for Transport compliance system. NPRC would like to collaborate with its customers to develop more hydrogen powered barges and accelerate the adoption of hydrogen.

The H2SHIPS project would like to thank the speakers and participants of this seminar and looks forward to 2023, the last year of the project that will see the commissioning of the hydrogen refuelling plant in Ostend and the first sail trials of the pilot boat Neo Orbis in Amsterdam. Further events and seminars will take place to spread the results of the project and support the building of an EU-wide ecosystem for hydrogen in shipping. Special thanks go to the Hydrogen Europe team who provided great organisational support.

Image Descriptions
1 – Venue of the EU hydrogen week at Brussels expo

2 – Presentation of the pilot in Ostend by Jan Allaert.

3 – Presentation of different hydrogen carriers and their gravimetric / volumetric density

4 – Presentation of SHIPDRIVE by Alex Vredeveldt from TNO

5 – Structure of the RH2INE initiative, presented by Patrick Krieger, NRW

6 – Antonie, the first dry-bulk barge equipped with hydrogen propulsion; presented by Arno Treur from NPRC