Green energy network


Hydrogen and electricity may be promising for inland vessels. But instead of prescribing specific alternative fuels, INE proposes a goal-based approach in line with Green deal objectives when amending the directive on alternative fuels infrastructure and revising TEN-T. The final aim is to achieve the possibility of clean on-shore power and refueling along the network by 2030 in order to make significant progress towards climate neutrality on water and along shore. The clean energy transition is only starting and it is not yet clear which alternative fuel will be the best solution. Most probably, the future is multi-fuel and we should avoid a technology lock-in at all cost.

The switch should be supported with appropriate technical regulations and the right taxation incentives. These should also support the carriage of clean fuels by water across Europe, inland shipping allows this in large quantities.

Not only vessels, but also waterway infrastructure moves towards climate neutrality in the same goal-based manner. Ideally, it generates or harvests where possible its own renewable energy for operations. The first examples are Archimedes screws at locks, wind farms along waterways and solar parks near locks.

Making clean on-shore power and refueling infrastructure available along waterways requires a network approach. The European corridors would be a suitable instrument to undertake coordinated planning in and between corridors using a smart mix of fixed and mobile facilities.

Inland ports will be the centrepieces for multimodal refueling in urban and industrial areas, creating scale for goal-based, flexible and adaptive solutions. This is more cost-effective and lowers the investment threshold in comparison to individual modal installations.

Integrating policies
Europe should seize the opportunity to strategically integrate industrial, transport and energy (TEN-E) policy to create smart energy corridors. Take the example of hydrogen. The link between chemical industry and hydrogen as well as between the chemical industry and waterways could promote its availability along the main inland shipping routes to the benefit of inland shipping and other transport modes. The same is true for wind power value chains. Industrial inland ports can act as energy hubs for the production, storage and supply of renewables and equipment, while vessels can ship them in large volumes.

Energy generating waterway infrastructure and port energy hubs can provide or receive excess power when connected to the grid. A greening fleet will benefit from synergies with forward looking industry and energy sectors, accelerating the transition.

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Inland shipping plans to go climate-neutral by 2050. Innovative inland vessels of the future came to Brussels on 16 October 2019.