Press Release

Using hydrogen power on the river Rhine: Rhenus presents its new fleet of low-emission inland waterway vessels

The Rhenus Group presented its concept for future, sustainable inland waterway shipping operations at the international leading ‘transport logistic’ trade fair in Munich. The logistics specialist, which operates around the world, provided information about the progress being made in constructing its three flagships for a new, low-emission generation of vessels. They are powered by a combination of a hydrogen fuel cell, the latest stage VI engines and electric batteries – and the concept for the intended geographical field of operations is unique up to now.

Progress of construction at the shipyard: Two push-barge combinations, each consisting of one motorised vessel and as many as three barges, are currently being constructed and another one is in the planning stage.

Two push-barge combinations, each consisting of one motorised vessel and as many as three barges, are currently being constructed and another one is in the planning stage. Inland waterway vessels of this size and operational performance will be powered by a scalable and long-lasting lithium-ion battery combined with the latest stage VI engines and a fuel cell operated using hydrogen for the very first time. The new flagships can be reliably navigated, even in strong currents as they occur on the river Rhine, for example.

The “Rhenus Mannheim I+II” and the “Rhenus Ludwigshafen”, which is now being planned as well, have a fuel cell that uses hydrogen from the outset; the “Rhenus Wörth I+II” is “H2-ready” and its engines can be re-fitted to operate on hydrogen fuel at any time. This means that the emissions limits of the stage VI engines, which have been installed, are far below those of the stage V technology that is normally used for inland waterway shipping.

Having low-emission technology is not only one of the necessities in current and future inland waterway shipping. There is also a challenge that is becoming a more and more pressing problem: dry periods and the resulting shallow water levels on the waterways. By distributing the weight and using a new kind of propulsion concept, the new vessels operated by the Rhenus Group have a good floating position and can be deployed if the water level is just 1.20 m deep – this means that they can continue operating even during extreme shallow-water phases.

Representatives from Rhenus and Contargo presented the flagships, their technology and the strategic background in public for the first time at the ‘transport logistic’ fair.

You can find more material about the Rhenus Group and inland waterway vessels here.


Rendering of the flagships for a new, low-emission generation of vessels, which Rhenus now presented.

Quotations from spokespersons at the press conference

Dirk Gemmer, the Managing Director of Rhenus Transport: “Inland waterway shipping is one of the most sustainable logistics carriers if we consider fuel consumption and emissions of all kinds of harmful substances overall. Our new flagships with their diesel-electric drive system require 30 percent less fuel than vessels with traditional power concepts – and the drop in fuel is as high as 84 percent if the fuel cell is used. We’ve brought together the collective expertise of innovative shipping technologies in order to construct fully functional vessels, which can immediately be put into service once they’ve been completed.”

Thomas Kaulbach, the Managing Director of Rhenus PartnerShip: “The reality of climate change has now caught up with the world of logistics: we’ll have to cope with extreme phases of shallow waters occurring more and more frequently in future. Our new vessels have a minimised draught of just 1.20 metres and can still be navigated, even with a heavy load on board.”

Marcel Hulsker, the Deputy CEO of Contargo: “We can map our trimodal supply chains in a climate-friendly manner with these innovative new inland waterway vessels – through electric trucks, railway services operated using green electricity and low-emission inland waterway vessels.”

About Rhenus

The Rhenus Group is one of the leading logistics specialists with business operations around the globe and annual turnover amounting to EUR 8.6 billion. 39,000 employees work at 1,120 business sites and develop innovative solutions along the complete supply chain. Whether providing transport, warehousing, customs clearance or value-added services, the family business pools its operations in various business units where the needs of customers are the major focus at all times.

Press contact Rhenus in Germany
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