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Developing Fuel Cell applications for port/harbour ecosystems


This project aims to develop, to deploy and to benchmark industrial FC vehicle for port operation, evaluating FC technology applications and emission reduction impact inside EU ports. The project will cover the R&D cost of new FC vehicles that will integrate the already existent FC power systems available on the market (the project will not cover the cost of R&D for new FC systems).
Proposal should include the installation of at least two of the following types of vehicles:

Vehicle Type

Power Range

(Minimum Fuel cell Power: 50kW)

Gantry cranes 50 to 120 kW
Yard Trucks 50 to 80 kW
Special Material Handling vehicles such as straddle carriers 60 to 320 kW

The proposal should consider not only vehicle deployment but also:

  • Hydrogen port infrastructure for land vehicles, including synergies with other local hydrogen consumers;
  • Hydrogen port infrastructure plan/strategy for ships, cruise ships and working boats;
  • Hydrogen logistic and refuelling;
  • Safety aspect related to emergency protocols, staff training, refuelling (vehicles), bunkering (ships);
  • Collaboration with Marine Coast Authority and other relevant certifying authorities;
  • Customer acceptance;
  • Evaluation of EU market (port applications);
  • Evaluation of emission reduction impact.
  • Appropriate battery hybridisation, particularly for cranes.

The overall scope will be to investigate an integrated Fuel Cell based solution for port equipment that will enable regional authorities to meet EU air quality requirements, IMO pollutant emission prescription and the second step of the European Commission strategy for the reduction of maritime CO2 emissions/greenhouse gas reduction targets for the maritime transport sector. The project should address the following issues:

  • Select the most feasible solution (types of vehicles and number) in terms of technical and economic aspects, able to prove the most effective reduction of CO2;
  • Reduction of vehicle noise under 60 dBa and global operation noise reduction;
  • FC systems and operating procedures should address specific European safety standards;
  • Consider a refuelling station with onsite hydrogen production or with external hydrogen supply;
  • LCA of environmental performance of vehicles, infrastructure and energy source (from energy source to vehicle);
  • Total fuel cell system installed power of at least 250 kW;
  • The vehicles should be validated and tested for a total period of minimum 2 year or vehicle operation > 5000 h, demonstrating a lifetime of 20,000 h;
  • Availability > 90% (measured on operation time);
  • Ability of the systems to withstand pollutant air coming from salt, PM and unburned fuels coming from ICEs exhausts of ships and other machines;
  • The solution should be replicable in other ports/harbours.
  • Assess the business model for deployment and identify the ports and harbours where most benefit could be achieved.

The vehicles, cranes and industrial equipment should be designed to meet end users’ requirements. The vehicles could be pure fuel cell powered or use a FC/battery hybrid architecture.
The project should perform an economic assessment and derive fuel cell system total cost of ownership for the selected target application including refuelling and system maintenance and comparison with alternate zero emission technologies such as direct electric supplies or batteries.
TRL start: 4-5; TRL end: 6-7
The consortium should include a port authority (public entity in general), at least one terminal operator (passenger, container or other) – end user, and a regional or urban authority responsible for air quality in an advisory role.
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 FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution of EUR 4 million per project would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.
Expected duration: 4 years.

Ports/harbours facilities are typically located near cities/residential areas and are negatively affecting the environment, in terms of air and water quality, noise and emissions. To meet regulatory requirements for urban air quality and the establishment of low emission zones within cities increasingly requires that emissions for industrial mobile applications must be addressed in addition to road transport. The environmental footprints from ports that are close to urban centres are high not only due to for the presence of shipping with large diesel engines, but also due to the large numbers of vehicles and cranes that move goods. Emissions from terminal port container operations associated with electric power are estimated to contribute approximately 10% of the total port GHG emissions (CO2) while emission caused by port transport typically accounts for up to 30%, with the remaining majority of emissions caused by to ships' generators. Concerning port operations, rubber tired gantry (RTG) cranes, yard trucks and material handling vehicles dominate fuel consumption. Some projects supporting the deployment of battery electric vehicles or LNG fuelled vehicles have proven effective to reduce fuel consumption and to enhance port operation. With increasing focus on both local and global emissions, zero emission solutions that have a capability exceeding current battery electric propulsion technology or cable reel electric supply [22] are required. For such applications, the suitability and viability of fuel cell technologies should be assessed. Based on this assessment, the most promising solutions should be developed and validated in the field, including logistic solutions for hydrogen refuelling, possibly combining fuel infrastructure with supplies to other local users.
Fuel Cell technologies are able to challenge the autonomy and charging time problems in the short term with the adoption of automotive stacks technologies on board various applications of port vehicles (forklift, rubber cranes, container handlers and so on). The adoption of hydrogen technologies could have an economical advantage inside an integrated port environment that consider at the same time shore mobile applications, on board applications and semi-stationary APU (auxiliary power unit) support systems that may be used for example to provide shore based electrical power to ships in port.

Footnote [22]:

Expected impacts of the project include:

  • Validated FC technology performance in terms of emission reduction (CO2), pollution reduction (SOx, NOx, PM) and techno-economic aspects for port industrial vehicles;
  • Assessment of the FC technology market potential for port industrial vehicles, cranes and mobile equipment;
  • Successful introduction of hydrogen technologies in ports and marine sector (new sector);
  • Increased users' hydrogen acceptance and knowledge;
  • Industrialization and production ready FC vehicles, cranes and mobile equipment are expected to be defined as an outcome;
  • Validation and demonstration of system safety strategy and recommendations for the port and marine sector.

The project should provide a significant step towards successful market introduction of FC industrial vehicles inside the port sector, with a significant impact in the reduction of CO2 emissions and air pollution from ports. The project should support the establishment of a European Supply Chain and foster value creation in European industry. Professional dissemination of information on the activities of the project to the broad public is considered as a key part of this project; it should especially be foreseen to communicate the benefits of hydrogen and fuel cells for port operations. Regional authorities could support the project with communication activities.

Type of action: Research and 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.