Barge to the Future

Work is currently underway on a new barge that will be powered entirely by hydrogen-based fuel.

2022 09 23 Bbbrc H2thefuture Img 0820a
U.S. Economic Development Administration chief Alejandra Castillo (C) flanked by PortSL Chief Executive Officer (L) and New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell (R) discussing the grant aimed at fostering the region as a green hydrogen innovation hub.

A new fuel will be powering barges in the Mississippi River soon. It’s part of an effort among many local organizations, including the Port of South Louisiana and GNO Inc., to reduce the local maritime industry’s carbon footprint.

“There’s a massive opportunity here to decarbonize our industrial sector through green hydrogen,” said Lacy McManus, Executive Director of Future Energy at GNO Inc.

Carbon has a negative impact on the environment in a variety of ways. It is the primary cause of human-induced climate change, contributes to air pollution, leads to toxic acid rain, adds to coastal and ocean acidification, and worsens the melting of glaciers and polar ice.

- Sponsors -

Green hydrogen, on the other hand, is clean fuel that produces only water. It generates no polluting emissions. South Louisiana already consumes 30% of America’s industrial hydrogen and the hope of project planners is for the area to become a prominent producer and consumer of green hydrogen.

The hydrogen barge is just one part of the H2TheFuture project, a larger plan to create a clean hydrogen energy cluster in south Louisiana. The project received $50 million in funding from the Build Back Better Challenge, a $1 billion initiative created through the American Rescue Plan Act to boost economic recovery in regional industry clusters. H2TheFuture received $24.5 million in matching funds from the state of Louisiana for a total project budget of $74.5 million.

When the grant was awarded in September 2022, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said it would be part of the state’s plan to be at net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

- Partner Content -

Entergy’s Energy Smart Program Brings Cost Conscious Innovation to New Orleans

Offering comprehensive energy efficiency at no cost to the consumer, Entergy’s Energy Smart program incentivizes Entergy New Orleans customers to perform energy-saving upgrades in...

“South Louisiana is known worldwide as the epicenter for American energy exploration, manufacturing, refining, and distribution,” said Micah Cormier, Director of Communications for the Port of South Louisiana. “As one of the western hemisphere’s top energy transfer ports, the Port of South Louisiana is ground zero for business and industry making investments in clean-energy solutions. We’re thrilled that the Economic Development Administration has awarded funding to the Port of South Louisiana to construct this hydrogen fueling barge, which will be the first of its kind in the nation and the second globally.”

The hydrogen barge will serve as a fueling barge for tugboats and will be powered by e-methanol, which is produced by combining green hydrogen and captured carbon dioxide. E-methanol burns clean and has no carbon footprint. McManus said they hope the barge will be in the river by quarter #1 of 2025.

When completed, the hydrogen barge is expected to cost approximately $6.7 million, according to Cormier. Cormier expects the construction of the hydrogen barge to trigger private investment in more than 16 hydrogen-powered tugboats.

- Sponsors -

“As companies across the globe are going green, there is no doubt that the presence of this barge on the Lower Mississippi River will lead to more vessels developed that are fueled by hydrogen, which has a zero-carbon footprint,” Cormier said.

McManus also noted the demand among companies for environmentally friendly fuel alternatives. She said there is global pressure from shareholders to have cleaner, greener practices that amount to more than just rhetoric.

There will also be an economic gain to this innovation. The H2TheFuture website estimated that their strategy to position Louisiana as a global leader in green hydrogen could result in over 34,000 new high-paying direct jobs. H2TheFuture also stressed the importance of making green hydrogen cost-competitive. 

H2TheFuture also proposed a new clean energy business model in Louisiana consisting of five parts: workforce training to upskill displaced oil and gas workers, rural residents, and minorities; business development to attract new and existing local and regional energy companies into the hydrogen value chain; higher ed “testbeds” to conduct research of low-carbon hydrogen technologies; public-private partnerships to make green hydrogen investments less risky at the commercial scale; and an organizational and governance nexus to create a green hydrogen planning hub focused on industry growth and sustainability to be located at the University of New Orleans’ campus.

The Port of South Louisiana does not plan to limit its environmentally conscious projects to the hydrogen barge. While there are no firm plans for future projects yet, Cormier said the port is open to and exploring new ideas.

“Our team is collaborating with experts from across the globe to identify new technologies that will lower carbon emissions and create jobs for the families in our region,” Cormier said. “Our strategic location and skilled workforce make the Port of South Louisiana a prime location to attract investments from across the globe and broaden the energy economy of our region.”

Digital Sponsors / Become a Sponsor

Follow the issues, companies and people that matter most to business in New Orleans.

Email Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter