If you happen to be in Paris this September, keep an eye on the river Seine. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the future of inland waterway transport: a zero-emissions cargo barge.
This fall, the European innovation project “Flagships” will deploy the world’s first commercial cargo transport vessel operating on hydrogen on the Seine. Designed to move goods on pallets and in containers, the new vessel will be powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell system that will produce 1 megawatt of power, the equivalent of about 1,300 horsepower, and enable zero-emission operations, thereby improving air quality in densely populated cities.
The hydrogen cargo transport 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 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, in a release.
Funded by a 2018 grant of $6 million from the European Union’s (EU) Research and Innovation program, Horizon 2020, under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), the Flagships project is part of a broader initiative to reduce emissions from shipping and improve air quality in densely populated cities.
“As we move through the energy transition, hydrogen technologies are gaining traction in the maritime sector. Flagships is a very exciting project for us, since it is leading the way to demonstrate how vessels operating on green hydrogen can decarbonize urban rivers. By translating technological innovations into commercial operations, we can make zero-emissions inland vessels a reality in every European city,” Bart Biebuyck, executive director at FCH JU, said in the release.