Norway to Begin Operating Two $24 Million Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cargo Vessels

A year ago, the Wilhelmsen maritime group was awarded a major funding by the Norwegian state, for the construction of its pioneering zero-emissions hydrogen vessels. Now, the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has approved the state aid, which means that the Topeka project has the green light to keep going. This is no ordinary project either, but one that hopes to transform Norway into a global hub for maritime hydrogen.
The two Topeka hydrogen-power vessels will begin operating in 2024 6 photos
Photo: Wilhelmsen
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The maritime company was awarded $24.5 million (EUR 21.7 million/NOK 219 million) back in 2020, by Enova, a state enterprise meant to promote eco-innovation. But an additional ESA notification was also required, because the investment in this project exceeded the maximum amount allowed for single projects, through the Eco-Inn scheme. The official approval has finally been announced, so that now the Topeka Nattruten project can go full speed ahead.

The two Topeka vessels will have a double environmental impact. On one hand, they will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, plus a 1,000 kWh battery, so that they can provide zero-emissions transportation. On the other hand, they will be used to carry LH2 (liquid hydrogen) to several fueling stations for local ferries and other types of ships, contributing to decarbonizing the maritime industry. Also, by transporting various goods, without any CO2 emissions, the Topeka vessels will practically replace hundreds of cargo trucks on the roads, which is another indirect way of helping the environment.

These pioneering carriers that are powered by hydrogen, and used to transport hydrogen, are only the first step toward a much more ambitious goal. Wilhelmsen intends to be able to support the entire maritime industry in the area with emission-free fuel alternatives. “Together with our partners, Enova and aided by the Norwegian government’s ambitions, we can make Norway the Silicon Valley for maritime hydrogen globally,” said Jan Eyvin Wang, Senior Vice President, Industrial Investments at Wilhelmsen.

The hydrogen fuel cell Topeka vessels are expected to begin operating in 2024, circulating between offshore supply stations along the Norwegian west coast.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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