Switzerland's first hydrogen-powered ship to run on Lake Lucerne

Switzerland's first hydrogen-powered ship to run on Lake Lucerne

The Lake Lucerne Navigation Company (SGV) has confirmed that Switzerland’s first-ever hydrogen-powered ship will soon operate on the lake. The public transport provider announced that the MS Saphir will be converted to run on hydrogen over the next two years.

MS Saphir to run on hydrogen from 2026

In a statement, the SGV announced that the MS Saphir will run on hydrogen from the summer of 2026. Originally built in Lucerne in 2012, the ship can hold 300 passengers and is usually used for charter services and hour-long audio-guided tours on the lake. 

Similar to a hydrogen train or car, engineers will install hydrogen fuel cells on the ship, which will then use the element to produce electricity and water. This energy will then recharge batteries on board, which power the rotors and ship systems. 

This will allow the Saphir to travel on the lake without emitting any carbon emissions - though CO2 is usually expelled in the production of hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen itself will be produced locally at a new site in Bürglen, Canton Uri.

Battery and hydrogen ships could become the norm

“We see great potential for the use of sustainably produced hydrogen on Swiss lakes,” noted H2 energy spokesperson Rolf Huber. He added that the Saphir will allow them to test whether larger transport ships in Switzerland could be converted to run on hydrogen in the future, which will, in turn, help transport providers achieve their 2040 CO2 neutrality target

“Battery ships are well suited for short distances of up to around 50 kilometres per day and route connections that allow longer charging times…For longer distances and the need for greater autonomy, hydrogen ships are more likely to be considered,” he explained.

Thumb image credit: marekusz /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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