Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen facilitates construction of hydrogen vessel

Hydrogen to power inland vessels: to boost this development, Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen is earmarking 4 million euros for the construction, development, and launch of the Netherlands’ first hydrogen powered inland cargo ship.

Hydrogen is an important sustainable alternative to fossil diesel fuel to power inland vessels. By supporting the construction of the hydrogen vessel, Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen is giving more impetus to improving the sustainability of inland shipping. By 2050, the Dutch inland shipping sector must be zero-emission. The new inland vessel is expected to be launched by 2023.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen: ‘Operating on hydrogen is no longer an idea on the drawing board. By constructing and, before long, operating this vessel we will learn in actual practice what it takes to utilise hydrogen safely and on a larger scale for our inland shipping. This marks a great step towards zero-emission inland shipping.’

In the inland shipping sector, the use of hydrogen is still in its infancy. The current development of a new ship, operating on green hydrogen, will, in the near future, enable further practical experiments involving the production, storage, and transport of hydrogen applications. Hydrogen can thus be developed as a key sustainable power source for inland vessels, in addition to, e.g., battery-electric vessels.


The vessel – to be named Antonie – will be 135 metres long, weigh 3700 tons, and is being built by Lenten Scheepvaart B.V. It is being constructed under the WEVA project. WEVA is the Dutch acronym for Hydrogen Electric Cargo Vessel Antonie. The Antonie will be transporting salt from the Nouryon plant in the north-eastern city of Delfzijl to the Botlek industrial zone in Rotterdam. In addition to the ship owning company and the carrier, the engine manufacturer and the fuel cell manufacturer are also involved in the project, which is being supervised by the NPRC inland shipping cooperation.

NPRC CEO Femke Brenninkmeijer: ‘This project features a unique collaboration between the shipper, the inland shipping operator, NPRC cooperation, and the government. The support of all the stakeholders is paramount to proceeding from dreams to reality, from words to action, in terms of zero-emission transport.’

Green Deal

The inland shipping sector plays a key role in the shift from road freight transport to freight transport by water, and in reducing emissions. In 2019, the national government, provinces, ports, maritime sector organisations, shippers, carriers, banks, and research institutes joined forces in the Maritime Shipping, Inland Shipping and Ports Green Deal in the purview of more sustainable shipping.

The above Green Deal has already generated other initiatives to spur on cleaner inland vessels, such as Zero Emission Services (ZES). In early 2021, Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen made available 11.7 million euros to support inland vessel operators in the procurement and installation of newer, cleaner ship engines. Furthermore, manufacturers could apply for grants to cover the development and production of cleaner ship engines. Over the next five years, the Cabinet will set aside 65 million euros for equipping inland vessels with SCR catalysts as part of the measures being taken to reduce nitrogen emissions.