THE European Union funded Flagships project will deploy the world’s first commercial cargo transport vessel operating on hydrogen, which will enter commercial operations in 2021.

The hydrogen cargo transport vessel will be owned by French inland shipowner Compagnie Fluvial de Transport, a subsidiary of the Sogestran Group. The company is currently developing a new business for urban distribution with transport vessels in the Paris area.

Matthieu Blanc, director of CFT said, “The demand for more sustainable technologies in inland waterway transport is on the rise.

“As part of the Flagships project, we are happy to be leading the way on reducing emissions from transport and demonstrating the superior features of hydrogen fuel cells in waterborne applications.”

Flagships Project co-ordinator Jyrki Mikkola from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland said, “Ships powered by renewable hydrogen will make a substantial contribution to reducing emissions from shipping and improving air quality in cities and other densely populated areas”.


The Flagships project was awarded €5m of funding in 2018 from the EU’s Research and Innovation program Horizon 2020, under the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking). The funding was to deploy two hydrogen vessels in France and Norway.

The project’s initial plan was to deploy a hydrogen push-boat in the Lyon area, but as the broader potential for hydrogen in cargo transport emerged, the demo pusher was changed to an inland cargo vessel. The new vessel will be tasked with moving goods on pallets and in containers along the river Seine.

The vessel will operate on compressed hydrogen produced from electrolysis, enabling not only zero-emission operations, but also creating a solid base for more local zero-emission transport, both at sea and on land.