World’s First Green Hydrogen Refuelling Network for Recreational Boating to be Built by ZHA for NatPower H

The world’s first green hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for the recreational boating industry will be initiated in 25 Italian marinas and ports with refuelling stations designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA).


A €100m investment led by NatPower H (part of the NatPower group), the green hydrogen infrastructure will begin installation in the summer of 2024 and targets the provision of 100 refuelling stations throughout the Mediterranean over the next six years, with further expansion to the world’s most popular regions for recreational boating.

Produced with wind, solar and other renewable energy infrastructure, green hydrogen is converted into a stable, natural resource using NatPower H technologies to meet the ever-increasing global demand for sustainable sources of power. Emitting only water vapour and warm air, hydrogen generates electrical power in a fuel cell. The 100 refuelling stations operational by 2030 will deliver up to 3650 tons of green hydrogen annually, eliminating approximately 45,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the Mediterranean’s recreational boats every year.

NatPower H has developed a green hydrogen fuel solution based on three key principles: safety, scalability and sustainability. The NatPower H stations will supply hydrogen using proven RINA PED-certified, low-pressure metal hydrides technologies for marine applications that ensure compactness, safety and resilience in compliance with industry regulations and certifications together with a meticulous focus on circularity and the protection of marine ecosystems.

“On the back of a renewable project pipeline that already exceeds 23GW, we created NatPower H – the first global operator for the production, storage and distribution of green hydrogen – to build the world’s first hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for recreational boating,” states Fabrizio Zago, Group CEO at NatPower. “We believe hydrogen to be one of the most efficient solutions capable of driving the energy transition of the entire recreational boating and yachting industry. Specifically, the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier through fuel cells and electric motors is proving to be one of the most promising options, offering excellent performance while respecting the environment.”

The boating industry is increasingly demanding ever more sustainable vessels, and the world’s shipyards are responding with solutions to reduce the ecological impact of their operations. The demarcation of protected marine areas around the world, which now prohibit the use of diesel engines, underscores the importance of ecologically-sustainable developments in the industry. This rapid energy transition is currently held back by the lack of infrastructure for distribution and refuelling with zero-impact energy sources.

Installing the infrastructure to deliver green hydrogen, NatPower H aims to create a network of sustainable energy hubs in all major Italian marinas and establish ideal conditions to facilitate the ongoing development and use of hydrogen-powered vessels.

“The Italian shipbuilding industry leads the world in terms of the number of boats built, and our aim is to facilitate the energy transition of this crucial market, promoting the use of hydrogen-powered boats with no direct CO2 emissions,” says Andrea Minerdo, CEO at NatPower H. “Although the project has only just been launched, we already have a pipeline of 25 agreements with Italian marinas and ports, allowing us to start developing a global network of widespread hydrogen fuel stations.”

NatPower H is collaborating with ZHA to construct green hydrogen refuelling stations that are ecologically responsible and meet the highest safety standards. Drawing on ZHA’s research into modular systems, the design is adaptable to the many varied locations throughout the Mediterranean, enabling a customised configuration for each refuelling station based on specific local needs such as overall size, seating, bike-charging facilities and the pedestrian circulation within each port and marina.

Utilising 3D robotic material placement to create the segments of each structure, the stations are fully-recyclable, dry-assembled masonry, minimising construction waste while also enhancing material efficiencies. The layered composition of 3D-printed blocks echoes the processes evident in nature that create the striated structures and fluid geometries of natural formations within Mediterranean landscapes and marine ecosystems.

The refuelling stations’ design has been developed from ZHA’s Computation and Design Research Group’s (ZHA CODE) collaborations with Block Research Group and Incremental3D, investigating unreinforced masonry structures, 3D-printed concrete and sustainable digital concrete construction. Evident in the team’s acclaimed Striatus Bridge in Venice and the Pheonix Bridge at the Holcim Innovation Hub in Lyon, circular construction integrating computational design and 3D printing reduces the structural materials required by up to 50% with no compromise in performance using blocks that can be easily disassembled and recycled.

“Built with low-carbon concrete, the structural strength of ZHA’s hydrogen refuelling stations is generated through geometry rather than increased use of materials. Combining the latest innovations in construction techniques with the historic engineering developed throughout the Mediterranean by the Romans more than 2000 years ago, the stations use advanced circular building technologies, reflecting NatPower H’s commitment to an ecologically-responsible future,” says Filippo Innocenti, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects.

NatPower H has also announced its partnership with Bluegame, the Sanlorenzo Group’s renowned yacht builder, which is designing and constructing hydrogen-powered chase boats for two of the six teams participating in the 37th America’s Cup held later this year in Barcelona.

Supporting both the ‘American Magic’ team of the New York Yacht Club as well as the ‘Orient Express Racing Team’ of France’s Société Nautique de Saint-Tropez, NatPower H will supply green hydrogen and implement refuelling procedures for each of the teams’ chase boats during their preparations for the Americas Cup this October. This partnership is part of a broader programme by NatPower H, demonstrating the benefits made possible with the establishment and widespread distribution of green hydrogen to the rapidly-growing sustainable boating market around the world.

The green hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for the recreational boating industry has been developed by NatPower H in collaboration with Zaha Hadid Architects, BluEnergy Revolution, Fitchner, Linde, Studio Maresca, S.i.g.e. and Tecma Solutions.

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