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First emission-free inland vessel in service, based on energy containers

6 september 2021

Zero Emission Services (ZES) has started running the Alphenaar, the first Dutch inland vessel to be powered by interchangeable energy containers. This is a major step towards realising a climate-neutral transport route, which is one of the ambitions of Green Circle HEINEKEN.

It also marks the commissioning of the ZES innovative energy system for inland navigation. The energy containers, which are known as ‘ZESpacks’ (literally translated as ‘SIXpacks’), are standard 20ft  containers filled with batteries charged with green electricity. The first two ZESpacks are charged and switched at the first charging station at the CCT terminal in Alphen aan den Rijn. ZES aims to scale up in the short term, with the goal of realising 30 zero-emission shipping routes by 2030. Founded last year by ENGIE, ING, Wärtsilä and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, and supported by the Ministry of I&W, the company is taking an important step in the transition to emission-free inland shipping. The company's founding had its inception in the Green Circle HEINEKEN, during the investigation of emission-free shipping as a means of helping to achieve a climate-neutral transport route. 


Inland navigation system change

Inland navigation plays an important role in reducing environmental emissions. Within transport, inland shipping is responsible for 5% of CO2 emissions and 11% of the total NOx emissions in the Netherlands. In order to achieve the goals of the Climate Agreement, the Green Deal Seagoing Shipping, Inland Shipping and Ports (Zeevaart, Binnenvaart en Havens) aims to reduce inland shipping emissions by 50% by 2030. Making a transition to all-electric waterborne transportation will be required to accomplish this. ZES provides the solution for getting this system change underway: a complete service package based on interchangeable energy containers charged with green energy, open-access charging infrastructure and a pay-per-use payment concept for ship owners. The charging stations can act as energy hubs capable of stabilising the grid at peak loads and providing the capacity for charging other vehicles as well. Thanks to their mobility, ZESpacks can be used to supply and store energy in a variety of locations, such as on construction sites and at festivals.


Scaling up

In the short term, ZES wants to scale up to eight ships, eight charging stations and 14 ZESpacks. The company plans to realise 30 zero emission shipping routes by 2030, which will save up to 360,000 tons of CO2 and 2,800 tons of NOx emissions. To really compete with fossil fuel-based shipping, simultaneous action and commitment from government, ports and terminals along with the business community are needed. ZES is working closely with national, regional and local governments and forward-thinking carriers to contract the next ships and develop the corresponding network of charging stations, starting in Rotterdam, Moerdijk and Alblasserdam.