To reduce CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate emissions for maintenance dredging along the Dutch coast, Royal IHC is working with Rijkswaterstaat to develop a fully sustainable dredger: the H2-Hopper. This unique TSHD is powered by green hydrogen, has no emissions and is minimised in its energy consumption. Rijkswaterstaat’s transition to sustainable coastal maintenance in the Netherlands is ambitious and challenging.

Making progress together

To facilitate innovations in coast line protection, Rijkswaterstaat, responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure in the Netherlands, opted for a new European form of tendering: the Innovation Partnership. In this partnership, Rijkswaterstaat and the industry work together to develop innovative ideas into practical solutions. The H2-Hopper is the tangible result of the innovation partnership between Rijkswaterstaat and Royal IHC to develop sustainable solutions for coastal maintenance.

Sustainable coastal protection

More about the H2-Hopper

The H2-Hopper is an innovative solution for sustainable coastal and waterway maintenance. Powered entirely by liquid hydrogen and fuel cells, the vessel emits no CO2 or NOx during maintenance operations. This results in an estimated 82-97% reduction in CO2 emissions and complete elimination of NOx emissions and particulate matter over its entire life cycle. 

The use of fuel cells is a unique solution in areas where NOx (nitrogen) emissions are not permitted, as alternatives such as internal combustion engines still emit NOx and batteries take up too much space on a hopper dredger.

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Technical challenges

Hans Hesen, Area Sales Director at Royal IHC, who has been involved in developing the hydrogen hopper with Rijkswaterstaat from the very beginning: "Liquified hydrogen is stored on board in cryogenic tanks and converted into hydrogen gas, after which it is converted into electricity via fuel cells. One of the biggest technical challenges was to integrate the hydrogen systems into the TSHD in the best possible way to continue dredging effectively. Our engineers have worked hard to perfect and accurately calculate solutions to such technical complexities."

Getting closer to zero emissions

Using hydrogen to power seagoing vessels is not entirely new. Hans Hesen: “However, the scale and scope we are currently facing is unprecedented in the dredging industry, as is the combination with other new technologies such as fuel cells. The relatively high impact on the design of the vessels has been challenging, but also rewarding, as the goal of zero emissions meaning no CO2 and no other harmful emissions appears to be within reach with the current state of technology.”

Hans Hesen

Developing sustainable solutions requires open and transparent collaboration between all stakeholders.

Hans Hesen - Area Sales Director

Balancing environmental and economic feasibility

As well as technical challenges, there are also economic considerations in the transition to sustainable solutions. "It is about finding a balance between the environmental benefits of sustainable innovations, the costs involved and what these innovations mean for our organisation and the market," says Edwin Verduin, advisor Nature and Sustainability at Rijkswaterstaat. Hans Hesen adds: "Developing sustainable solutions therefore requires open and transparent collaboration between all stakeholders. 

Towards a greener future

The H2-Hopper is proof that the Netherlands is at the forefront of innovation in sustainable solutions for zero-emission technologies in the maritime industry. Edwin Verduin: "Ultimately, new zero-emission fuels are the future of dredging and maritime industries. The Innovation Partnership has already helped us to overcome many of the hurdles in developing this sustainable technological solution".

TSHD Hydrogen hopper dredger H2-Hopper

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