The technology group Wärtsilä has joined a consortium of key partners to form Zero Emission Services BV (ZES), an enterprise aimed at making inland waterway shipping more sustainable. The other founders of ZES are ING Bank, energy and technical service provider Engie, and the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The concept is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.
It is based on the use of replaceable battery containers, to be known as ‘ZESPacks’. These will be charged using energy from renewable sources. A network of open access charging points will be set up for exchanging depleted battery containers for ready-charged replacements, thereby keeping waiting time to a minimum. The ZESPacks are designed for multiple applications, enabling them to be utilised for temporary onshore use, such as stabilising the local electricity grid or meeting short-term demand for electrical power.
The system is independent of the energy provider. Initially batteries will be employed but should, for example, hydrogen become a viable alternative at some point, containers equipped with hydrogen technology could supply power in the same way.
To make it easier for barge operators to sign on to the concept, a ‘pay-per-use’ financing model has been developed. In this way, ZES charges only for the cost of consumed renewable energy plus a rental fee for the battery container, so the skipper’s operating costs remain competitive. However, vessels must be equipped with an electric propulsion line, the consortium partners noted.