H2SHIPS - System-Based Solutions for H2-Fuelled Water Transport in North-West Europe

Project Summary

The Interreg North-West Europe project H2SHIPS will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of hydrogen bunkering and propulsion for shipping and will identify the conditions for successful market entry for the technology. Two pilot projects will be implemented as part of H2SHIPS: A new hydrogen powered port vessel will be built in Amsterdam and in Belgium, ancillary equipment will be erected to power wind farm maintenance vessels and ensure safe and efficient operation of a newly built hydrogen refuelling station. A further major output will be an action plan for the implementation of an H2SHIPS pilot on the river Seine in Paris after the end of the project. H2SHIPS will demonstrate the added value of H2 for water transport and develop a blueprint for its adoption across North-West Europe, avoiding considerable GHG-emissions.

The Project has a total budget of € 6.33 million and receives € 3,47 million from from Interreg North-West Europe between 2019 and 2022. H2SHIPS has 13 Partners from 5 countries and is coordinated by Europäisches Institut für Energieforschung.

Long Term Effects

By the end of the project H2SHIPS expects to have created the necessary conditions for uptake of its technologies by 2% of the fleet renewal (retrofit or new) with positive impact on cross-sector industry uptake. This will lead to the creation of several jobs every year.


European Institute for Energy Research

EIFER is a widely recognized energy research institute, with more than 110 employees from 14 different nationalities, showing multidisciplinary know-how and competencies, involved in many European, national and regional projects on Fuel Cells and Hydrogen. EIFER is part of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, bridging the gap between academics and industries on advanced technologies.



Hynamics, a subsidiary of the French energy provider EDF created in 2019, aims at offering effective low-carbon hydrogen for industry and mobility. Hynamics installs runs and maintains hydrogen production plants by investing int the necessary infrastructure and helps link up different areas with H2 refueling stations for vehicles, trains, busses, lories and vessels.


University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a public research university located in Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom. The university hosts the Centre for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Research focusing on research and development, applications and demonstrations of fuel cell and hydrogen systems and technologies and a Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their fuels which are both internationally recognized for their expertise.


Amsterdam Port Authority

The Amsterdam Port Authority manages, operates and develops the port, its infrastructure, maritime activities and industrial facilities in the Amsterdam-Noordzeekanaal-Ijmuiden region. It ensures a safe, swift and environmentally responsible management of shipping traffic within its working area. In the entire Amsterdam port region a yearly amount of over 94 million tons of goods is being transshipped.


Delft University of Technology

The Maritime Transport Technology department of Delft University of Technology conducts R&D activities covering the design, build, operation of marine transport systems and their equipment.



Navalu is an French shipbuilder. It designs, builds and ensures the maintenance of innovative aluminium boats. Navalu built the first H2 powered passenger ship and was highly involved in the procedure to obtain a navigation certificate.



SYCTOM’s activity is divided in three main actions: (i) Over 2,3 Mtons household’s waste treatment in the central area of the French Capital Region Ile-de-France; (ii) Management of 9 treatment facilities : waste-to-energy plants and sorting centers; (iii) Developing all kind of sustainable actions and support activities in order to increase selective collections (biowaste and packaging waste) promoting re-use and waste prevention.


Port of Paris

Ports of Paris' mission is to develop inland waterway freight and passenger transport in Ile-de-France through the development, maintenance and operation of port facilities in Ile-de-France. The environmental policy of Port of Paris is characterized by a systematic search for the least environmental impact and the implementation of effective and ambitious solutions for the protection of natural environments and enhancement of the city-port interfaces in its social and urban dimensions.


Port of Ostend

AGHO is an energy port, specializing in the production of renewable energy - both onshore and offshore production sites - including biomass, biofuel, and biosteam and the production of algae. A lot of investments go to circular economy projects, including heat recovery. Port of Oostende has a joint venture with University of Gent and Regional Development Agency to create an incubator center for blue industry and renewable energy, developing and testing new technologies in a towing tank.


Steinbeis 2i GmbH

S2i is a 100 % spin-off of Steinbeis-Innovation gGmbH, a non-profit organisation devoted to technology transfer, within the Steinbeis Foundation for Economic Promotion. S2i core business focusses on technology transfer and exploitation of projects results through communication, dissemination and definition of business models. S2i has a strong experience in community building, foresight, roadmapping and outreach activities. S2i supports companies, municipalities and authorities.


Hydrogen Europe

Hydrogen Europe is an umbrella association representing the European Industry, Research, and National and Regional Associations in the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell sector. It brings together various industry players, large companies and SMEs, who support the roll-out of hydrogen and fuel cells technologies, thus contributing to Europe’s low carbon economy. It represents the views of the hydrogen and fuel cell industry in EU and develop, together with its members, materials and position papers.


Transport & Environment

Transport & Environment’s mission is to promote, at EU and global level, a transport policy based on the principles of sustainable development. Transport policy should minimise harmful impacts on the environment and health, maximise efficiency of resources, including energy and land, and guarantee safety and sufficient access for all. Its work focuses on areas where European and global policies have the potential to achieve the greatest environmental benefits.


Tata Steel Europe

Tata Steel is one of the world’s most geographically diversified steel producers, with operations in 26 countries and commercial offices in over 35 countries. The Tata group was founded on the principle that its activities should always benefit society. IJmuiden Tata Steel’s IJmuiden plant is located on the North Sea Coast of the Netherlands and produces organic and metallic coated strip products. The plant is in the top five of Worldsteel’s environmental benchmark of 52 global steel makers.


Associated Partners

De Vlaamse Waterweg nv


Secrétariat de la Commission centrale pour la navigation du Rhin (CCNR)




European Marine Energy Centre Limited


Conseil Régional Pays de la Loire


Caisse de Dépôts


Hub for Ocean


Les Vedettes de Paris Tour Eiffel


Voies navigables de France


Blue Line Logistics


Ville de Paris


Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
EIfER Europäisches Institut für Energieforschung EDF-KIT EWIV 11 Emmy Noether Strasse
berthon@eifer.org www.eifer.kit.edu/
Name Contact Name Email Country
Hynamics Christelle Rouillé Christelle.rouille@edf.fr France
University of Birmingham Robert Steinberger-Wilckens R.SteinbergerWilckens@bham.ac.uk United Kingdom
Amsterdam Port Authority Jan Egbertsen Jan.Egbertsen@portofamsterdam.com Netherlands
Delft University of Technology Klaas Visser K.Visser@tudelft.nl Netherlands
SYCTOM Frédérique David david@syctom-paris.fr France
HAROPA Cédric Virciglio cedric.virciglio@haropaports.com France
Port of Ostend Wim Stubbe Wim.Stubbe@portofoostende.be Belgium
Steinbeis 2i GmbH Paul Haering paul.haering@steinbeis-europa.de Germany
HYDROGEN EUROPE Michael Diderich m.diderich@hydrogeneurope.eu Belgium
Transport & Environment Faig Abbasov faig.abbasov@transportenvironment.org Belgium
Tata Steel Europe Gerard Jägers Gerard.Jagers@Tatasteeleurope.com Netherlands


Reducing GHG emissions in the transport sector is crucial for climate change and air quality. Water transport plays a key role for persons and goods in North-West Europe, which concentrates 84% of European inland freight. However, almost 100 % of inland vessels are fuelled by gasoil which, similar to diesel, emits CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Inland waterways and maritime transport sectors thus have large potentials to become more environmentally friendly.

The Hydrogen Solution

Advantages of hydrogen propulsion technologies over conventional combustion engines are considerable: Hydrogen can be converted into mechanical or electrical energy completely free of any emission. In addition, hydrogen propulsion systems operate silently and require less maintenance.

Hydrogen propulsion is already close to full market maturity and  is the only option that allows total decarbonisation of waterborne transport with high efficiency and high energy density. Its uptake requires dedicated infrastructure, close to end users.

With predictable routes and proximity with other industries, water transport proves particularly well suited to hydrogen solutions. H2SHIPS aims to kick-start the necessary value chain.

Main Project Outputs:

  • A demonstration project for H2-powered water transport of passengers (Dutch Pilot)
  • A demonstration project for H2 infrastructure maintenance vessels (Belgian Pilot)
  • A replication study for inland cargo ships
  • An action plan for the implementation of a pilot in Paris in 2021-2022
  • A blueprint for the uptake of a new hydrogen-based transport system in North-West Europe
  • The creation of an H2 value chain that supports transport operators in implementing H2 products/services developed by enterprise-research cooperation
  • At project end, direct decrease of GHG emissions enabling a longer-term reduction trend following market uptake
  • Several jobs created within the new H2-powered water transport industry
  • Positive impacts on the water transport sector and port cities

Two pilot projects will be implemented as part of H2SHIPS: A hydrogen powered port vessel will be built in Amsterdam and in Belgium, in Belgium, infrastructure and equipment will be built to power a H2 refuelling station in the Port of Ostend.

Pilot 1 - Amsterdam

The objective of this pilot is to demonstrate the feasibility of operating an inland port vessel with hydrogen as a fuel. The 20 meter long vessel will operate both in urban areas (Amsterdam's canals) as well as in the seaport area between Amsterdam and IJmuiden. The vessel will be completely emission-free and silent, operating with a battery and a fuel cell. Sodiumborohydrid will be used as hydrogen carrier, a powder (to be) diluted in water, which should guarantee a safe storage with a high flame point. The operational sailing experience with this innovative hydrogen storage should enable a quick implementation of this technology on board of other ship types, like inland vessels. Port of Amsterdam (PoA) will lead the pilot. PoA will contract the equipment, build the ship and operate it in the Amsterdam port area. Tata Steel will bring its expertise as a supply chain operator to this project. University of Birmingham will provide technical and engineering assistance for the adaptation of the propulsion system and carry out assessment studies. TU Delft provides and coordinates the body of knowledge for system components, hydrogen generation implementation and the integration and testing of the system on shore and on board. TU Delft will furthermore facilitate the transfer of the demonstrator technology and design towards a separate inland cargo vessel demonstrator, chartered by TATA Steel and operated by PTC, owner of the ship.

The brochure for the new Port of Amsterdam hydrogen vessel, HS Neo Orbis, can be found here.

In January 2023, the construction of the Neo Orbis began at the Dutch Shipyard Next Generation. Read about this exciting milestone here.

First welding of the Neo Orbis

Pilot 2 - Ostend

The objective of this pilot is to erect ancillary equipment (electric infrastructure and safety equipment) needed for the operation of a newly built hydrogen refuelling station for maintenance vessels of the offshore wind farms. The wind farm supplies the port with green electricity which will then be used to produce green hydrogen. The pilot therefore fills an important gap in the overall hydrogen infrastructure of the port. H2SHIPS partner Port of Ostend oversees the construction of the refuelling station. The Interreg NWE project ISHY will deliver the core elements of the bunkering station. The pilot consists of two main steps: the finalisation of the design studies by June 2022 and the construction of the refuelling station with its commissioning expected to take place in February 2023.

In July 2022, the Hydrocat 48 - the crew transfer vessel with a hydrogen-diesel dual engine - was commissioned and has been bunkering hydrogen at the port since then. More information, here

Image source: CMB.Tech

Below you can find all public outputs of the project such as newsletters and public deliverables.

Report Collection: Pilot Amsterdam - Hydrogen fuelled port vessel in Amsterdam

Report Collection: Pilot Ostend - Hydrogen Bunkering Station

Report Collection: Existing regulatory framework in France, Belgium and the Netherlands and analysis of the regulatory constraints and barriers for the roll-out of hydrogen in the inland waterway transport sector


The H2SHIPS project ends here.

Posted on

In July 2023 the H2SHIPS project officially ends, after more than four years of transnational collaboration to promote hydrogen as a fuel for clean shipping. We proudly look back at the work achieved and know it is still a long way before zero-emission ships can be seen on all European waterways. Read More

H2SHIPS at the European Maritime Day in Brest 2023

Posted on

As part of the European Maritime Day 2023 in Brest, H2SHIPS co-organised a workshop titled "Decarbonising European Ports with Hydrogen". The workshop speakers all addressed the critical role that hydrogen can play in reducing emissions in the maritime sector, especially the port's infrastructure. Organised by BDI and Steinbeis 2i, the event aimed to showcase ongoing projects, present innovative solutions, and facilitate discussions among key stakeholders. Read More


Hydrogen Days 2020

, Prague, Czech Republic

Hydrogen Days 2020: Are you interested in recent progress made in hydrogen technologies in Europe and worldwide? Would you like to meet colleagues and have an opportunity to discuss your latest results, or to find partners for collaboration? Or, are you simply interested in developments in the exciting field of hydrogen technologies?
Read More

Visit the H2SHIPS Platform! https://h2ships.org/

It is a comprehensive Knowledge Exchange Platform.

This platform will gather all the information and findings from the project for the stakeholder for H2 in water transport. Its aim is to stimulate the community-building for H2 in the water transport sector by providing information and news on H2 development.

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