Skip to main content

Programme Category


Article available in the folowing languages:

Demonstration of Fuel Cell applications for mid-size passenger ships or inland freight

The scope of this topic is the development and demonstration of at least 2 mid-size FC powered ships each with a minimum nominal FC system power of 400 kW, for inland/coastal freight or transportation of more than 100 passengers. A total minimum nominal FC system power of 1MW should be installed in the ships. The ships should be used on a daily basis in order to gain relevant operational experience. Refuelling (bunkering) to sustain the normal operational profile of the vessels is considered within the scope of this topic. Exploitation of synergies with refuelling infrastructure for other applications are considered however advantageous.

To assess different operational scenarios the ships shall operate at 2 different locations. The demonstrations should highlight the superior energy density and short refuelling time of hydrogen vs pure battery solutions. Batteries may however be included in a FC hybrid configuration to reduce fuel consumption and smoothen power demands on the FC unit. Retrofit of FC systems to replace conventional fossil-fuelled propulsion is also within the scope of the topic. An averaged minimum of 50 % renewable based hydrogen is required during the demonstration. Access cost of hydrogen compared to diesel is eligible.
The construction of the demonstration vessels' hull, superstructure and other components unrelated to the FC propulsion system, as well as operational costs such as crew are not considered eligible costs.
The project should address the following key issues:

  • Development of a FC system suitable for integration in new and existing ships, complying with maritime requirements regarding safety, redundancy and operational conditions ;
  • Adaption and certification/approval of a new or retrofit of an existing vessel (i.e. the vessel cost is not eligible);
  • Develop a suitable bunkering technology and process, based on existing HRS technology developed in previous FCH JU projects;
  • Operation of the FC technology during test period and assessment of the technology in maritime conditions by the end-users including the related infrastructure;
  • Transfer of fuel cell technology developed and applied in previous FCH 2 JU projects;
  • Assessment of suitable business models for maritime transport applications, to foster further commercialization of technical solutions both on board the vessel and bunkering/refuelling;
  • Monitoring during the operation the advantages in terms of emission reduction, noise reduction, improved image, availability, reliability and customer needs;
  • Dissemination of the demonstration activities and achievements and support the EU member states promotion of clean vessel technology on the basis of this demonstration;
  • The hydrogen infrastructure should be designed to provide hydrogen at the required quality, amounts and reliability to maintain normal operation of the ship. Technology and processes should be based on current proven hydrogen refuelling technology (e.g. for buses).

The project should cooperate on ongoing activities with relevant organisations such as CESNI (European Committee for inland navigation vessels standards), IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and certification bodies. The project shall include an operational period of at least 18 months for each vessel. The proposal is expected to include a vessel OEM to ensure the transition to commercialization of the technology.
TRL at the start of the project: 4-5.
TRL at the end of the project: 6-7.
Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox, which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD.
Test activities should collaborate and use the protocols developed by the JRC Harmonisation Roadmap (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC – Rolling Plan 2018""), in order to benchmark performance of components and allow for comparison across different projects.

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 5 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.
Expected duration: 4 years

While emission regulations have been enforced in road transport for more than 2 decades, maritime transport is still, largely, utilising heavy fuel oil and high sulphur containing diesel. In cities with major harbours, maritime transport is today contributing significantly to air pollution.
Emission Control Areas (ECAs) are defined in the North and Baltic Sea (requiring the use of low-sulphur diesel) and along the North American coastline. ECA regulations have been proposed also for e.g. the Mediterranean Sea, and the coastlines of Australia, Japan and Norway. To comply with these more stringent local emission regulations, conventional propulsion systems based on internal combustion engines (ICEs) are subject to installing costly exhaust cleaning technologies.
Moreover, European GHG emission targets for 2030 along with the ambitions of shifting especially freight from road to rail and sea underlines the urgency of introducing low and 0-emission solutions also for maritime transport. Some European cities (e.g. Amsterdam) have already announced 0-emission requirements for cruise-ships in harbour within 2025. Environmental legislation designed to reduce emissions across the maritime industry is hence placing higher demands for compliance upon ship owners and operators.
Consequently, conventional ICE-based drivelines are currently being hybridized with batteries for reducing fuel consumption and the high local emission from ICE drivelines operating at part load. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a marine fuel constitutes a commercially available solution, which is almost eliminating local emissions (SOx, NOx, PM). Replacing diesel with LNG may reduce CO2-emissions by 15-20%, but this is not compliant with the 40 % GHG reduction ambitions for 2030.
A first generation of pure battery-electric ships have been introduced in recent years. The largest to date is the 1 MW ferry boat Ampere which has been in operation since early 2015 in Norway. However, battery-electric ships have limited range, long charging time and require a high capacity grid connection. In that respect hydrogen and FC technology represents a promising option.
FCs have been demonstrated for propulsion in several smaller slow speed vessels. PEMFCs and hydrogen as fuel is dominating and the power range is typically up to 100 kW. Lately, several initiatives have been taken for utilising FCs at higher power ranges and in high-speed vessels. Leading FC suppliers are now adapting MW-scale FC systems for maritime use. For wide deployment of FC technologies in maritime transport there is, however, still a series of specific challenges which needs to be addressed, including durability, system power density for high speed vessels, compatibility with maritime conditions (saline air, shock, rolling & vibration), high volume bunkering, regulations, codes and standards (incl. redundancy), and public acceptance.

This project is expected to develop and demonstrate hydrogen powered ships for medium sized inland and coastal freight and/or passenger transportation with daily normal missions, meeting customer needs. It is expected that the project provides a significant step towards implementation of FCs and hydrogen as fuel in maritime transport, by reducing costs while increasing the maturity, reliability and lifetime. The project will demonstrate the superior features of FC-based propulsion as compared to pure battery-powered vessels as well as the benefits from hybridising FCs with batteries for maritime transport applications. The demonstration shall also strengthen the European supply chain and reveal viable business models for inland/coastal maritime transport applications. It will, moreover, provide for increased visibility of the potential for FCH technologies as a means for de-carbonizing inland/coastal transportation.
More specifically, the expected impacts include:

  • Successful demonstration of two FC-powered ships for inland/coastal applications before 2023;
  • The performance targets should comply with the MAWP bus targets;
  • Average availability of the ships of at least 90%;
  • 100% of on board power for auxiliaries and propulsion to be FC or FC battery hybrid;
  • Vessel to be in service no less frequently than the conventional IC engine equivalent;
  • Technical solutions meet all local safety requirements concerning gas storage and fuelling within the operational environment;
  • Speed and performance no less than the normal IC engine based service;
  • Systems design life of at least ten years (servicing allowed);
  • Lessons learnt from implementing and operating FC ships, identification of bottlenecks – technical, organisational, structural, financial including RCS and formulation of recommendations on how to address these;
  • Lowering CO2 and pollutant emissions from inland/coastal transport;
  • Reduce noise in urban areas and increase public awareness;
  • Contribute to significant further capital cost reduction of fuel cells and refuelling infrastructure.

Type of action: Innovation Action
The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.