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Flagships project: Hydrogen-powered container vessel completes initial waterway trials


Following its inauguration in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in February, the H2 Barge 2 – powered by Ballard's FCwave™ fuel cell module - is the first inland container ship to be converted from diesel to operate on green hydrogen. The hydrogen-powered barge completed its first trials on the river Rhine in March.

Led by a consortium of partners that make up the Flagships H2020 Project, stakeholder and Dutch shipbuilder Holland Shipyards Group was initially commissioned to convert the diesel-powered ship to a vessel run by fuel cell engines, in a collaborative effort aimed at advancing zero-emission transportation on inland waterways.

Retrofitted with a new zero-emission propulsion system, H2 Barge 2 is powered by six Ballard FCwave™ modules, which provide the vessel with a capacity of 1.2MW. The 110-meter hydrogen-powered ship has a cargo capacity of 200 TEU, and will operate emission-free along a 240km route on the river Rhine between Rotterdam and Duisburg, Germany – eliminating 3,000 tons of CO2 annually.

"This project aligns perfectly with the shared sustainable missions of the many project partners who have worked tremendously hard to help get the H2 Barge 2 to this point. All organizations involved are committed to pioneering innovations that pave the way for zero-emission marine vessels that enhance shipping worldwide. Ballard is proud to provide the fuel cell power for this exciting program as we and our collaborators aim to push the boundaries for what is possible in developing green shipping solutions for maritime sustainability."

Kristina Fløche Juelsgaard Director, Business Development, Ballard


The vessel, previously known as FPS Waal, was initially a conventionally powered container ship before being retrofitted in 2023, with Holland Shipyards Group removing all combustion engines and diesel fuel tanks at their ISPS-certified shipyard in Werkendam. Now, the H2 Barge 2 incorporates a propulsion system based on electric motors, hydrogen storage tanks, battery packs and fuel cells for emission-free mobility.

This is the first of two demonstrator vessels from the EU-funded Flagships project, with the second – Zulu 06 – scheduled for deployment in Paris, France later in 2024. These vessels are part of a broader initiative to showcase the feasibility and advantages of hydrogen-powered shipping solutions in real-world conditions.

The successful trials of the H2 Barge 2 on the Rhine mark a significant milestone in sustainable water transportation and exemplifies how hydrogen and fuel cells can be harnessed to reduce emissions and promote cleaner waterways.