Starting this summer, the world’s first zero-emission, all-electric barges will begin operation in the ports and inland waterways of Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Antwerp.
Capable of handling 24 containers of 20 feet each, the vessels will be battery powered and charged onshore using infrastructure provided by sustainable energy firm Eneco.
Operators in Antwerp are scheduled to receive five of the new barges — which are being manufactured by Dutch logistics company Port-Liner — in August. Six larger vessels that are capable of handling 270 containers are to follow in the third quarter of this year.
According to The Guardian, Port-Liner’s barges are designed for autonomous operation, though they will be crewed when they are first introduced. It’s believed that the vessels will remove some 23,000 trucks from the road each year.
The company’s CEO, Ton van Meegen, told supply chain journal The Loadstar that the barges’ battery system can also be retrofitted to similar vessels already in use.
“There are some 7,300 inland vessels across Europe and more than 5,000 of those are owned by entrepreneurs in Belgium and the Netherlands,” says van Meegen. “We can build upwards of 500 a year, but at that rate it would take some 50 years to get the industry operating on green energy.”