Following nearly two years of construction at the Hermann Barthel shipyard in Derben, Germany, an emission-free, battery electric and hydrogen-powered pusher tugboat called the Elektra has been delivered to the Westhafen in Berlin where it will begin long-term testing.
The Elektra’s propulsion system was designed for application to a wide range of ship types and features a 2,500kWh battery system provided by EST-Floattech and 750kg of gaseous hydrogen at a pressure of 500 bar. This enables the vessel to achieve an approximate operating range of 400km when sailing in combination with a loaded heavy-lift barge. Because of this, only one additional land-based station (located next to the Westhafen) will be needed to supply the vessel with hydrogen and electricity.
The first sites for the changeover of hydrogen tanks will feature 500kW electric charging stations and will be ready for use at Berlin’s Westhafen and the port of Lüneburg in 2023. TU Berlin has contracted Mittelelbe Business Park and H2 Green Power & Logistics to fill and transport the tank systems with green hydrogen until the end of the project in 2024.
The tanks will be exchanged with an onboard crane and the power connection runs via a loading beam that guides the cables to land. This ensures efficient cable handling and a fast connection to the land-based charging station.
The Elektra will serve the waterways of Berlin on routes between the Rhine-Ruhr, Hamburg and Stettin. Furthermore, the vessel will be capable of operating push-barge combinations up to 150m-long. A self-developed energy management system and a digital sailing assistant will support the vessel’s captain and logistics planner with the planning of operations and transports.
“The Elektra is a Lighthouse project; it is the world’s first push boat in which battery-electric propulsion is combined with hydrogen and fuel cell technology,” explained Federal Minister for Digital and Transport Dr Volker Wissing. “The entire project is a blueprint for the climate and environmentally friendly inland shipping, not only technically but also in terms of regulation real pioneering work.”
“The world’s first zero-emission push boat is the impressive result of the cooperation between stakeholders from the shipbuilding, energy and propulsion technology industries,” commented the Mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey. “I’m particularly pleased that a lot of Berlin’s ingenuity flowed into the development and construction of Elektra. This lighthouse project shows us how we can succeed, by implementing innovative ideas, in improving the climate on our access waterways for the long-term. Berlin wants to be a pioneer here.”
Testing will take place in Berlin, before being carried out on long distance routes toward Hamburg in 2023.