The owl and the pussycat may have had one, but this green boat claims to be the first commercial hydrogen-powered barge in the world. Due to start service in Amsterdam in the first half of 2008, this lovely, streamlined craft is green in more ways than one. The hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis, and part of the plans include a hydrogen station. More than that, though, the energy for the hydrolysis will be provided by an offshore wind farm, so that the entire project is truly zero-emission.

The boat has been developed by a consortium of five companies: Alewijnse, Integral, Linde Gas, Marine Service North and the shipping company Lovers. Although small hydrogen powered boats exist, and are used in a variety of settings, it is the commercial nature of the fuel cell boat that makes this project unique. At 20 metres long and 4 metres wide, and with a transparent green canopy, the boat will carry 100 people at a time on sightseeing tours along the canals. It will also contribute to Amsterdam’s public commuter transport network, providing transportation for staff between Amsterdam-Noord and the Central Station during peak rush hours, morning and evening.


The consortium points out the difficulty in developing new technologies is often a “chicken and egg” situation, with the transport unable to be developed until fuel stations are in place, and vice versa. By taking this bold initiative, they hope to open up the city to the realistic prospect of more hydrogen-fuelled developments.

As anyone who has been to Amsterdam knows, this is a city that already has strong environmentally-friendly transport credentials. Bicycles line almost every street – it can seem as if there are more bikes than people – and with a highly efficient tram system, the look, feel and atmosphere of the city is created largely by its transport infrastructure. The fuel cell boat seems like a worthy new member of this already successful team.

More information (if your Dutch is good enough – mine isn’t!) is available at this website.




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