Port of Emden to get methanol-powered harbor boat

Germany’s Port of Emden is looking to make its harbor tours CO2-neutral in the future as it will receive a new, methanol-powered harbor boat.

As informed, ship operator AGEms from Emden, shipyard Diedrich from Oldersum and maritime educational institution MARIKO GmbH from Leer have joined forces to construct an innovative, eco-friendly boat.

The official start of the project took place in Leer in mid-July 2021.


The newbuild will replace the previous harbor boat MB Ratsdelft.

To run purely electrically, the vessel will be equipped with fuel cells and have an innovative ship design to adjust the clearance height under bridges. The envisaged solution provides for the roof of the harbor boat to be retractable in order to reduce the headroom. At the same time, the harbor boat is to receive a ballast water system in which the water is absorbed into the tanks to increase the draft and at the same time further reduce the headroom.

The ambitious harbor boat project is said to be in line with the master plan for 100% climate protection of the city of Emden and the greenhouse gas neutrality that it aims to achieve by 2050.

For the purely electric drive of the new harbor boat, it is planned that the batteries are supported by additional fuel cells as range extenders in order to be able to cope with one day’s tours. As a result, the batteries are smaller and the weight of the harbor boat can be kept low, which in turn benefits energy consumption. 

Bio-methanol is to be used as a clean fuel for the fuel cells. The experience with LNG during the conversions of the Borkum ferries MS Ostfriesland and now MS Münsterland makes the step to methanol as another alternative fuel to diesel for AG Ems lighter. 

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“The positive experience with LNG confirms that we are now also using methanol in the shipping company,” Claus Hirsch, head of the nautical and technical inspection at AG Ems, commented.

As part of the project, Schiffswerft Diedrich is entrusted with the design and construction of the new harbor boat.

MARIKO GmbH accompanies the project and takes a look at the CO2 savings that the new harbor boat can achieve through the innovative drive and the use of bio-methanol.

 “The project has great potential to act as a beacon for the segment of touristic boat trips from East Friesland,” Sören Berg from MARIKO GmbH said.

There are already many electric tour ships, but not in the combination with fuel cells and “that is guaranteed to be a trendsetter”, Hirsch concluded.

The project is supported with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).