Over the next few weeks, the first newbuild hydrogen-electric inland navigation vessel will be completed, with trials scheduled at the end of summer. On 12 June, a construction update of this Hydrogen Electric Cargo Ship Antonie (Waterstof Elektrisch Vrachtschip Antonie, WEVA) took place at Concordia Damen in Werkendam.

Invited guests were given a tour of the zero-emission barge by owner Harm Lenten of Lenten Scheepvaart.

The WEVA project is a collaboration between Nedstack, Nobian, Lenten Scheepvaart, Concordia Damen, Energy TransStore and inland shipping cooperative NPRC, and contributes to the realisation of completely emission-free inland shipping. The project is about sharing knowledge, demonstrating innovation and setting the standard for hydrogen in inland navigation.

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Transporting salt

The vessel will be launched under the name MS Antonie. Under the flag of NPRC (a cooperative of European private-sector inland waterway shipping companies), the 135-metre-long ship will transport salt from Delfzijl to the Nobian plant in the Botlek in Rotterdam entirely emission-free, on behalf of Nobian. Around 3850 tonnes of salt are involved per sailing.

From this salt, the company makes, among other things, chloroalkali, chloromethanes and hydrogen. The beauty of the WEVA project is that the hydrogen made from the salt will soon serve as fuel for the Antonie.

Marco Waas of Nobian is delighted with the ship: Ten per cent of our scope 3 CO2 emissions come from transport activities. Nobian wants to operate climate-neutral in 2040. Green waterborne transport is part of that. Five years ago, we started this project as partners. It makes us proud that this climate-neutral ship will soon enter service. As the largest green hydrogen producer in the Netherlands, it is great that the Antonie will transport our raw material salt CO2 neutrally.’

Also read: Lenten Scheepvaart brings in Concordia Damen to help build inland hydrogen vessel

Perseverance and inspiration

Femke Brenninkmeijer of NPRC underlines that perseverance is required: ‘If you work on big issues like energy transition, you have to be able to deal with setbacks. This project requires guts and perseverance. It is great that the government is a serious partner within the WEVA project. It is precisely by joining forces with partners that you get such a complex project off the ground. I am extremely proud that we as NPRC together with our member Harm Lenten, the client and all stakeholders managed to realise this. I hope we will inspire others with this new-build hydrogen-electric barge.’

Also read: Holland Shipyards kicks off second hydrogen retrofit

Pilot project

NPRC member and inland shipping entrepreneur Harm Lenten of Lenten Scheepvaart did not expect to be standing here today five years ago.

Lenten: ‘A ship that emits no CO2 and makes no noise. That is fantastic. With this pilot project, we are showing that hydrogen is a feasible and sustainable solution for greening inland navigation. It is precisely by combining forces, knowledge and resources that you can achieve something great. Together, we will make the innovative WEVA project a success. I can’t wait until I glide completely climate-neutral and silent through the Dutch landscape after the summer.’

Also read: FPS launches zero-emission inland container ship

Flywheel for hydrogen

The Port of Rotterdam Authority sees hydrogen as a promising fuel for longer distances in inland shipping.

Vivienne de Leeuw, Director Finance and Information (CFO), sees the role of hydrogen growing: ‘Rotterdam is becoming an international hub for the production, import, application and transit of hydrogen to other countries in Northwest Europe. The WEVA project testifies to the right mentality, which we love in Rotterdam, namely, roll up your sleeves and just start. Let this project be the flywheel to start using hydrogen safely on a larger scale in inland navigation.’

In addition to the partners, the project also receives support from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the European Commission, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Port of Rotterdam Authority, Groningen Seaports, ABN Amro, Koedood Dieselservice, the Province of South Holland and the Province of Groningen.

Picture: First newbuild hydrogen inland vessel MS Antonie at Concordia Damen (by NPRC).

Also read: First hydrogen cargo ship in the Netherlands to sail in two years time