PM Modi launches India’s first hydrogen-powered ferry built at Cochin Shipyard

Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined the ceremony in virtual mode from Thoothukudi. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kochi: India’s first indigenously developed and built hydrogen fuel cell ferry was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The prime minister joined the ceremony in virtual mode from Thoothukudi. The inland waterway vessel, under the Harit Nauka initiative, is a pilot project to demonstrate the technology for the maritime sector.

The ferry built at the Cochin Shipyard here will be taken to Varanasi. The boat will be shifted to Varanasi after several rounds of detailed operational test rides here. The pilot project is a 24-metre-long catamaran vessel which can carry 50 passengers with fully air-conditioned passenger space.

Madhu S Nair, chairman and MD of Cochin Shipyard, hailed the development of the green fuel vessel as “a sign of the new India”. "There were many sceptics who said it would take long for India to develop hydrogen fuel cells. It is a clear answer to those who believe we will have to import it from the west. It’s a very high-grade hydrogen fuel cell that has been developed. Hydrogen of 99.99 per cent purity has to be used in this. Today hydrogen is not fully viable. But with the way the central government is pushing it, in the next few years hydrogen will become a viable alternative fuel,” Nair told the media after the event.

Hydrogen fuel cell vessels are electric vessels which do not use conventional batteries as primary storage of electrical energy. The vessels run on hydrogen fuel which is stored in onhold cylinders. The fuel cells convert the hydrogen into electricity which is then used to drive the vessel.

The Cochin Shipyard rolled out the project in association with the Indian Register of Shipping. Pune-based KPIT Technologies developed the hydrogen fuel cell system in collaboration with CISR Labs. The project costs Rs 14 crore, and 75 per cent of it has been funded by the Ministry of Port, Shipping and Waterways.

The hydrogen fuel cell ferry is a 24-metre-long catamaran vessel that can carry 50 passengers. Photo: Special Arrangement

The launch of the project is expected to give an impetus to the country’s push for using hydrogen in marine applications as envisaged under the National Green Hydrogen Mission.

The adoption of green hydrogen as a maritime fuel is at the forefront of India’s commitment to a sustainable future that aims for net zero emissions by 2070. The fuel cell-powered vessel has zero emission and zero noise, and is energy efficient, reducing the effect of global warming.

PM Modi launched the vessel at a function chaired by Madhu S Nair. Hibi Eden MP, Sreejith Narayanan, director - operations, Jose V J, director-finance and Bijoy Bhaskar, director - finance attended the event.

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