Avoiding technology lock-in
When preparing the alternative fuel infrastructure currently in force, LNG was hailed as the green alternative fuel for inland waterway transport. In order to help reduce CO2 emission and air pollution, the directive prescribed that Member States deploy an appropriate number of LNG refuelling points in seaports by end 2025 and in inland ports by end 2030. Implementation support was made possible via the Connecting Europe Facility. However, the business case for LNG and the well-to-wheel efficiency turned out unfavourable in the case of inland waterway transport. In the meantime, new options for clean propulsion of ships emerge and are being tested. A supportive policy framework for clean propulsion and progressive no-regret measures are helpful to keep investment risk under control..
Legislation in revision
The lesson of LNG shows that rather than betting on one technology, goal-based regulation is a better guarantee to achieve the Green Deal objectives in a period of uncertainty. Inland shipping will require a heterogeneous alternative energy mix in order to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emission and pollutants in the medium term, and reaching full zero-emissions in the long term. The availability and feasibility will depend on supply markets and policy incentives. INE proposes to reflect this in the upcoming legislation for alternative refuelling infrastructure and the trans-European networks in order to avoid dead-end investments.
Green energy transport value chain
Synergies across modes & sectors
Rebooting the energy use by transport requires deep synergies among modes with the EU energy policy and TEN-E to effectively connect with our evolving clean energy system and networks. We hope that the bundled activities under the new executive agency CINEA will enable this. Cross-sector cooperation is crucial to accelerate the transition by improving the business case. Integrating waterway transport from the start in the developing value chains for renewables from production to end user presents the double advantage. A relatively small sector will definitely benefit from the scale effects. In addition, its potential as large volume carrier for renewables can be harnessed .In this respect, INE applauds the message in the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy envisioning inland and sea ports as ideal clean energy hubs for integrated electricity systems, hydrogen and other low-carbon fuels, and testbeds for waste reuse and the circular economy. This will help to turn inland ports into centrepieces for multi-modal refueling in urban and industrial areas, creating scale for goal-based, flexible and adaptive solutions.
Corridors are well placed to help integrate industrial, transport and energy policy across sectors and corridors
The advantage of corridors
Making clean on-shore power and refueling infrastructure available along waterways requires a network approach. This is more cost-effective and lowers the investment threshold in comparison to individual modal installations. The European corridors would be a suitable instrument to undertake coordinated planning in and between corridors, while avoiding any regional divergences in fuel availability. European coordinators are well placed to help integrate industrial, transport and energy policy across sectors, regions and borders to shape smart multi-modal transport and energy corridors.