Ballard Power Systems announced its collaboration with ABB and other consortium partners in the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) project Flagships. The aim is to develop a fuel cell powered tug boat for inland waterway vessels.
The tug boat, which is to be created by the partners, will be used in France starting from 2021. Under the flag of Sogestran’s subsidiary Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT), it is expected to start operating on the Rhône. The basic intention behind the project is to profile fuel cell drives as a cost-effective and practical solution for medium-sized ships with more than 100 passengers or an equivalent cargo volume in inland or coastal areas.
Ballard Power Systems will supply two of its next generation 200 kW fuel cell modules for the project. In Germany, the company is involved in a very similar project: Together with Berliner Hafen- und Lagerhausgesellschaft and TU Berlin, Ballard is also locally developing an emissions-free tug boat there. This is to be tested in regional traffic in Berlin waters in 2021 before it is used between Berlin and Hamburg in 2022. And that’s not all: last month Ballard announced that it would also supply the Norwegian ferry and speedboat operator Norled with two FC modules of 200 kW each. These will be used in a hybrid ferry that is scheduled to go into operation in 2021.
The current establishment of a Marine Center of Excellence at Ballard Power Systems’ location in Hobro, Denmark, underlines the importance Ballard Power Systems attaches to shipping. In the future, FC modules for ships will be developed and produced there. Jesper Themsen, head of Ballard Power Systems Europe, says that the flagship project announced above will benefit from this centre of excellence. And: “We continue to register a growing interest in emission-free solutions for shipping – this river tug boat is another example.
According to ABB manager Jostein Bogen, the ship’s refuelling process will be a particular focus of practical testing. The aim is to reconcile this with the operating plan on a daily basis. “Trials will therefore also provide valuable insights into developing and optimizing the refueling infrastructure needed for hydrogen fuel cells in marine operations,” he added.
Meanwhile, the current project is not the first cooperation between ABB and Ballard in the maritime sector. In the middle of last year, both companies agreed on the joint development of novel fuel cell systems for cruise ships.