Hydrogen-powered tug to debut in Port of Antwerp

hydrogen-powered tug
© iStock/Erik_V

The Port of Antwerp has placed an order for the world’s first hydrogen-powered tug as the next step in its transition to becoming fully carbon neutral.

The ultra-low emission ‘Hydrotug’, which is powered by a combination of diesel and hydrogen fuel, is to be manufactured by Antwerp-based shipbuilder Compagnie Maritime Belge; and will feature a motor certified to the EU’s strictest emissions standard. The hydrogen-powered tug is expected to be completed within two years, in line with the Port of Antwerp’s overarching policy of implementing full maritime sustainability.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Port of Antwerp, said: “As an industrial seaport, Antwerp’s role in the energy transition should not be underestimated. We are working towards becoming a CO2-neutral port. Together with our partners we are preparing for the future in a constant search for innovative applications and opportunities. With this world first we aim to further prepare the way for alternative fuels such as hydrogen, in order to realise the transition to alternative, renewable sources of energy. At Port of Antwerp we are setting a good example with this significant step towards making our own tugs eco-friendly.”

Compagnie Maritime Belge won a sustainability award in 2018 for its ‘Hydroville’ passenger ferry shuttle, which is also powered by a combination of hydrogen and diesel and which is currently in operation around the Port of Antwerp providing commuter transport. The company hopes the hydrogen-powered tug will further cement its status as a leader in the shipping sector’s transition to clean fuels.

Alexander Saverys, CEO of Compagnie Maritime Belge, said: “We are convinced of the potential of hydrogen as the key to sustainable shipping and making the energy transition of a reality. The expertise that we acquire with the Hydrotug will enable us to further develop the use of hydrogen as a ship’s fuel.”

Port of Antwerp alderman Annick De Ridder said: “Hydrogen is one of the keys to an economy and society with minimum impact on the environment. As such it is one of the fuels of the future. With Port of Antwerp we aim to develop its potential to the full, committing ourselves as active pioneers in the hydrogen economy on a European scale. The ecosystem represented by the Antwerp port platform is an ideal testbed for this technology on a large scale. In this way we seek to be a source of inspiration and to set an example for other ports.”

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