A contract to build to two environmentally friendly car ferries with hydrogen and battery propulsion has been signed by Norwegian yard Westcon with Norwegian ferry company Norled. They will carry 299 passengers and 80 cars.
Earlier this year, Norled and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration signed an agreement to build one of the world’s first hydrogen-electric ferries after Norled won the development contract in competition with Fjord 1 and Boreal (New Ships 20/2019). “We believe this construction project will contribute to the Norwegian maritime sector as a whole being at the forefront of hydrogen-powered ferries,” said Sigvald Breivik, Technical Director of Norled. The newbuildings will both operate on the Hjelmeland – Skipavik – Nesvik route in Norway from spring 2021. The contract with the Norwegian public roads administration includes the development, construction and operation of the vessel where at least 50% of the energy requirement is covered by hydrogen. In 2015, Norled launched one of the world’s first battery-powered car and passenger ferries named MF Ampere.
Norway’s goal is that by 2022, more than 70 Norwegian ferries will sail on battery and contribute significantly to climate and environmental emissions. Norled said that the advantage of hydrogen as a zero-emission fuel is that it is better suited to supply larger amounts of energy to the ferry propulsion systems, and this feature can be used to increase sailing distance or to have high speed.
The soon-to-be-built Norwegian hydrogen-powered vessel is one of two new ships that are part of the European innovation project Flagships. Recently, the EU granted 5 million euros to Flagships to support deploying two zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vessels in Norway and France. The second vessel will be operated by Compagnie Fluvial de Transport (CFT) in France and serve as a utility vessel on one of the country’s most demanding rivers, the Rhone.