The transport of cargo with hydrogen-powered inland vessels along the freight corridor between Rotterdam and Genoa has just come a step closer. The European Commission has awarded 0.5 million euros in funding for further research to the RH2INE partnership, whose members also include the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The application was jointly submitted by the Province of Zuid-Holland, the German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the ports of Rotterdam and Duisburg and RheinCargo. The partners will also be contributing 0.5 million euros to the research budget.
The target is to have at least 10 vessels running on hydrogen along the Rhine-Alpine Corridor – the main freight route between the port of Rotterdam and Cologne – by 2024. This requires three hydrogen refuelling stations along the way. In the years following, the number of stations will be expanded so that hydrogen-powered freight vessels can continue to Genoa. To facilitate the use of hydrogen as a transport fuel, twenty parties – from both the public and private sectors – have joined forces in the RH2INE (Rhine Hydrogen Integration Network of Excellence) alliance.
The European grant will be used to fund research into which hydrogen refuelling stations are best suited for this purpose, hydrogen technology and which legislation will be required in the various countries and locations to allow inland vessels to switch to hydrogen. The network members also intend to learn from each other via RH2INE. They will achieve this by exchanging knowledge regarding the use of hydrogen in inland shipping. Each of these parties plays a role in a future hydrogen economy, from production to distribution to its utilisation in shipping.
European sustainable development goals
As far as the European Commission is concerned, the RH2INE grant application came at an excellent time. It aligns seamlessly with Brussels’ sustainability targets in its search for alternative fuels and opportunities to raise sustainability after the Covid crisis. 'It is a well-written, solid proposal. It shows the interrelationship between the set objectives, activities and budget,' according to the funding body.
'Hydrogen is an inextricable part of the future economy and is one of the key solutions for the cleaner transport of heavy cargo across longer distances,” says Floor Vermeulen, the Member of the Provincial Executive of Zuid-Holland responsible for traffic and transport. “To turn this plan into a reality, you need to work together, and I am proud of the range of parties who have joined the network. From production and distribution to users. I see this grant as an incentive through which the EU confirms that we are on the right track. Furthermore, it connects with Zuid-Holland’s ambition to achieve a better balance between transport and a pleasant social environment.'
'We are delighted with the EU’s positive decision with regard to the cross-border promotion of hydrogen technology. This confirms that with our RH2INE-programme, we have taken new steps forward, towards more climate-friendly freight transport,' says Andres Pinkwart, North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of Innovation and Energy. 'The future hydrogen market will be based on international connections.'
Energy in transition
The Port of Rotterdam Authority is committed to combating climate change and wants to play a leading role in the global energy transition. The reduction of CO₂ emissions and efficient use of raw and residual materials are important tasks for the Port Authority.
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