DFDS, partners turn to EU to bankroll the development of hydrogen-powered ferry

DFDS and its partners have applied for EU support for the development of a ferry powered by electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell system.

DFDS CEO, Torben Carlsen; Image by DFDS

The partnership includes DFDS, ABB, Ballard Power Systems Europe, Hexagon Purus, Lloyd’s Register, KNUD E. HANSEN, Ørsted and Danish Ship Finance.

DFDS said that the ferry would be powered by electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell system that emits only water and can produce up to 23 MW to propel the ferry.

Green hydrogen is to be produced by a projected offshore wind energy-powered electrolyser plant in Greater Copenhagen.

The 100% hydrogen-powered ferry would initially be intended for DFDS’ Oslo-Frederikshavn-Copenhagen route.

“The largest fuel cell systems today produce only 1-5 MW, and the development of such large-scale fuel cell installations for an electric ferry is a monumental task. We can only succeed in partnership with companies that bring together some of the globe’s finest expertise in design, approval, building, financing and operation of innovative vessels,” says Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS.

“Together, we expect to be able to make these fuel types and technologies commercially viable, which is key to a transition of the industry to climate neutrality.”

Image by Knud E. Hansen


  • On board power production PEM Fuel cells
  • Engine power 23MW
  • Fuel Compressed hydrogen
  • Fuel tank capacity 44T
  • Passenger capacity 1,800
  • Trailer & Car capacity 2,300 lanemeters
  • Route Copenhagen – Frederikshavn – Oslo
  • Roundtrip time 48 hours
  • Bunkering interval 48 hours
  • CO2e/year emission avoidance 64,000 Tons

The project is in line with the company’s carbon neutrality plans.

To remind, in September, DFDS revealed that it had developed an ambitious climate plan aimed at becoming climate neutral by 2050.

The company is aiming for a relative reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by close to 45 per cent from 2008 to 2030.

One of the measures in the company’s long term plan includes a switch from fossil fuels to the new generation of zero-emission fuels.

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The ferry that has the working name Europa Seaways, is designed for 1,800 passengers and has capacity for 120 trucks or 380 cars.

The partnership is seeking support from the EU Innovation Fund in order to accelerate the process, adding that there are no ferries of this kind in the world today and there is a high level of uncertainty in the undertaking.

However, if the project develops as projected, the ferry could be in full operation on the route, or elsewhere, as early as 2027.