Finnish marine technology firm Wärtsilä has joined a consortium of key partners to form Zero Emission Services (ZES), an enterprise aimed at making inland waterway shipping more sustainable. The other founders of ZES are ING Bank, Engie, and Port of Rotterdam Authority.
The consortium is looking to develop an emission-free barge concept, based on the use of replaceable battery containers charged using renewable sources, to be known as ZESPacks. A network of open access charging points will also be set up for exchanging depleted battery containers for ready-charged replacements, keeping waiting time to a minimum.
The concept is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. According to Wärtsilä, inland navigation accounts for five percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the Netherlands, and by switching from diesel fuelled propulsion to fully electrically powered transport, an important step can be taken towards realising the Paris Climate Agreement goals.
“This innovative concept aligns completely with Wärtsilä’s commitment to lessening the environmental impact of shipping. Our deep in-house know-how in maritime battery systems, shore power connections and remote connections, plus our extensive experience in serving inland waterway applications, were all key reasons for Wärtsilä to join this project and it is something we are proud to be a part of,” said Tamara de Gruyter, president, marine systems & executive VP of Wärtsilä.
The project will initially be employed along the Zoeterwoude – Alpherium – Moerdijk corridor and later it will be expanded to include the Amsterdam – Rotterdam – Antwerp corridor, making a connection to Nijmegen. The emphasis during the initial stage will be on converted and newly-built container carriers.
The Heineken beer company has entered into an agreement with ZES to utilise the service for transporting beer from its brewery in Zoeterwoude to Moerdijk, becoming the first end customer for the enterprise.