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ABB to provide power and propulsion solution for fuel-cell river boat

Under the EU FLAGSHIPS initiative, ABB will provide a fuel-cell-based power and propulsion solution for a newbuild push boat for the France-based Sogestran Group subsidiary Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT), due for delivery in 2021. FLAGSHIPS is the EU-funded initiative to deploy commercially operated zero-emission vessels for inland and short sea operations.

With hydrogen for the fuel cells sourced from shore-based renewable energy, the complete vessel energy chain will be emission-free.

CFT has been an inland waterways innovator for more than half a century. Powering river transport in a sustainable way is a new type of challenge, but it has become vital that we cut emissions on Europe’s inland waterways and specifically in the city centers. With this project, we aim to highlight that emission-free operation is both feasible and commercially viable.

—Matthieu Blanc, COO at CFT

As a FLAGSHIPS member since the project’s start in January 2019, ABB has been working closely with Finnish research organization and project coordinator VTT and the leading global provider of innovative clean energy fuel cell solutions Ballard Power Systems Europe to develop an installation enabling a 400 kW fuel cell to power vessel operations.

Ballard plans to deliver two of its next-generation 200-kilowatt fuel cell modules in 2020, which will provide propulsion power for the vessel.

The project objective is to demonstrate that fuel cells are a practical and deliverable propulsion solution for owners and builders of mid-sized vessels carrying more than 100 passengers or the equivalent freight volumes inland or coastally. For this reason, the scope of FLAGSHIPS also includes assessing the operational impact of the switch to hydrogen as a fuel.

Concept_illustration_of_a_push_boat_powered_by_fuel_cell_system

Concept illustration of a push boat powered by fuel cell system.

Once the fuel cell power plant has been fitted, the plan is to run the vessel daily, with special attention being paid to the refueling procedures needed to meet the operating schedule. Trials will therefore also provide insights into developing and optimizing the refueling infrastructure needed for hydrogen fuel cells in marine operations.

With maritime transport estimated to emit around 940 million tons of CO2 annually, there is an increased pressure for the shipping industry to deploy means of reducing harmful pollutants. The International Maritime Organization, a United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping, adopted a strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, with the aim of phasing them out entirely.

The FLAGSHIPS project is supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), a public private partnership established under Europe’s Horizon 2020 frameworks to accelerate commercial realization of the technology in a range of transport and energy uses. The three members of FCH JU are the European Commission, fuel cell and hydrogen industries represented by Hydrogen Europe, and the research community represented by Hydrogen Europe Research. Parties involved in the CFT newbuild project also include LMG Marin, NCE Maritime CleanTech and PersEE.

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