The world’s first hydrogen-powered push boat (towboat), the Elektra, has been christened in Berlin. The unique and innovative vessel was built over the course of about 2 years at Hermann Barthel GmbH in Derben and features a battery-electric propulsion system combined with hydrogen and fuel cell technology.


The vessel is intended to maximize the use of energy carried on board. In addition to propulsion, the hydrogen power system provides heating for the cabins and the wheelhouse. The waste heat from the fuel cells is used through continuous water cooling and the cabins are heated by a heat pump. 

With 750 kilos of high-pressure compressed hydrogen on board and a battery capacity of about 2,500-kilowatt-hours, the push boat has a range of about 215 nautical miles when pushing its companion barge, the Ursus. Combined with one other charging station, this is enough range to carry Elektra along the region’s waterways to the Ruhr, Hamburg, and Stettin.


The first stations for the changeover of the push boat’s hydrogen tanks and electric charging stations will be operational in Berlin’s Westhafen and the port of Lüneburg in 2023. The removable H2 tanks can be exchanged with the onboard crane, and the shore power cables are mechanically handled to save time.

Testing of the Elektra will initially take place in the Berlin area. Beginning in 2023, the tests will be continued on long-distance routes towards Hamburg.

According to maritime-executive