Breakthrough in Shipping: Hydrogen-Powered Freight Vessels Set New Standards on the Rhine

Wasserstoffbetriebene Frachtschiffe sind in den Niederlanden schon Realität. Screenshot Youtube Future Proof Shipping.

Hydrogen-Powered Freight Vessels are reality! In a pioneering feat of engineering and environmental innovation, a new hydrogen-powered freight vessel stands on the cusp of revolutionizing maritime transport along the Rhine, ferrying goods between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Duisburg in Germany. The project, spearheaded by the Dutch shipping company Future Proof Shipping (FPS) in collaboration with the EU-funded Flagships project and the Interreg-funded ZEM Ports NS project, marks a significant milestone toward sustainable shipping practices.

The retrofitting efforts commenced in 2021 when FPS unveiled plans to convert two barges. Despite significant challenges, FPS, in partnership with the Holland Shipyard Group, successfully completed the conversion of the first barge in May 2023, slated for service between Rotterdam and Antwerp. With the conversion of the second barge, dubbed the H2 Barge 2, the vision for sustainable inland and short-sea shipping gains momentum.

Formerly known as Fenny 1 and FPS Waal, the H2 Barge 2 boasts a length of 360 feet (110 meters) and a capacity of approximately 200 TEU. The Holland Shipyard Group spearheaded the conversion process, liberating the vessel from all combustion engines and fossil tanks upon its arrival in August 2023. The barge now features a state-of-the-art, emission-free propulsion system comprising PEM fuel cells, hydrogen storages, battery packs, and an electric drive train below deck. Powered by six Ballard Power Systems fuel cells, the H2 Barge 2 is poised to save 3,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually as it plies the waters of the Rhine.

What is the future of Hydrogen-Powered Freight Vessels?

The success of the H2 Barge 2 underscores the broader ambitions of the Flagships project, which aims to elevate emission-free water transport to unprecedented levels. Funding from the Interreg North Sea Region Programme (Zero Emission Ports North Sea – ZEM Ports NS), the Flagships H2020 Project (Clean Hydrogen Partnership), and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has contributed to realizing this ambitious endeavor. The deployment of the second demonstrator, Zulu 06, in Paris in 2024 promises to further push the boundaries of sustainable shipping.

As the maritime sector steers towards a greener future, hydrogen-powered vessels on the Rhine stand as beacons of progress, embodying the transformative potential of innovation and collaboration in safeguarding our planet’s waterways for generations to come.

Who is Future Proof Shipping?

FPS provides emissions-free shipping services to assist businesses in adopting more environmentally friendly solutions. They bring together green energy logistics providers, cargo owners, and shipping companies to achieve sustainable shipping objectives. FPS’s emissions-free fleet is rapidly expanding and available for lease. The first emissions-free vessel will already be hydrogen-powered by 2023, with more in the pipeline. FPS aims to support companies in making conscious decisions for a clean future. They offer emissions-free vessels for lease to transport cargo along the Rhine and in European short-sea traffic. Additionally, they provide consulting services to help companies operate their vessels in an environmentally friendly and future-proof manner. With their commitment to clean shipping, FPS is setting new standards and demonstrating that a sustainable future in shipping is achievable.

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Sources and Further Links:

Maritime Executive. (2024) Hydrogen-Powered Inland Cargo Barge Ready to Sail on the Rhine. Available at: (Accessed: February 09, 2024).

Future Proof Shipping. (2024) Available at: (Accessed: February 09, 2024).

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