From 2021 passengers will be able to board a hydrogen-powered water taxi in Rotterdam. A commercial boat of this scale to run entirely on this clean fuel will be a world first.

The hydrogen-water taxi will be developed by the SWIM consortium, with financial support from the Municipality of Rotterdam, the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management and the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund.

‘We are going to demonstrate that green hydrogen can already be used operationally in the maritime sector,’ says Tim van Vrijaldenhoven, who is coordinating the SWIM project from Enviu’s shipping programme THRUST. Headquartered in Rotterdam, Enviu develops and implements transition programmes in various countries through social entrepreneurship in areas such as energy, circular economy and textiles.

Springboard for larger ships

Van Vrijaldenhoven: ‘The ultimate goal of THRUST is to make a shipping industry without harmful emissions possible. The Rotterdam water taxi is on the one hand a beautiful business card for the application of hydrogen, and on the other hand a good springboard. It launches a commercial, emission-free solution for passenger transport by water that can be scaled up for larger ships in the maritime sector.’

Bunker station

‘At the same time, Enviu is also developing the necessary infrastructure for sailing on hydrogen. For example, a bunker station will have to be built in the port of Rotterdam where sustainably generated hydrogen can be refuelled,’ says van Vrijaldenhoven. ‘Together with the Port of Rotterdam Authority, we are looking for a suitable location for this. The aim is for multiple parties to make use of this, both from the water and on land.’

Reducing cost

The production of hydrogen is still expensive at the moment, but Van Vrijaldenhoven expects its price to fall sharply soon as demand for it and its storage capacity increase. The hydrogen taxi that will be put into operation will in any case be fully integrated with the rest of the fleet. Before then, the parties in SWIM will develop and test both the boat and an entirely new propulsion system in the coming months.

The SWIM consortium includes Watertaxi Rotterdam, the (maritime) innovation agencies Flying Fish and from Delft and venture building studio Enviu.