Platform for the implementation of a future inland navigation action programme

Zero-emission IWT strategy

Executive summary

Introduction and policy background

PLATINA3 is a Horizon 2020 (H2020) project that provides targeted coordination and support activities to promote Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) in Europe. PLATINA3 makes the bridge towards future research, innovation and implementation needs within IWT in Europe.

Deliverable D2.1, building on the work done by a partially similar H2020 project (STEERER), presents actions for the development of a strategy for zero-emission IWT to enable the sector’s fleet to achieve its climate targets, while at the same time being in tune with the developments of its sister-segment, the maritime. This will be achieved by taking into consideration the available research, development and innovation (RD&I) funding at the EU level, in particular the Co-Programmed Partnership on Zero-Emission Waterborne Transport (cPP ZEWT). PLATINA3 thus continues the STEERER work of advising the ZEWT Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), but with a bigger focus on the IWT-related RD&I needs and activities, alongside the updates based on the recent policy and/or technological developments.

Before delving into the technical and their accompanying regulatory and business aspects, D2.1 undertakes an analysis of the relevant international and the European Union’s (EU) legislative developments in particular the ‘Fit for 55’ proposals package. This enables the sector to understand the current and foreseen main legal requirements that need to be met, which in turn determine the RD&I priorities for funding and investments, so that the stakeholders can have the necessary technologies and comply with the legal provisions.

SRIA intervention Areas ZEWT and relevant actions from the IWT perspective

The Partnership is one of the main instruments in transforming waterborne transport into a net zero-emission mode of transport, through the research to and demonstration of deployable zero-emission solutions suitable for all main ship types and services before 2030. Its objective is to provide and demonstrate zero-emission solutions for all main ship types, on both existing and newbuilds, and services before 2030, which will enable zero-emission waterborne transport before 2050. 

It was therefore necessary to have a more systematized approach of the different ship types in waterborne transport, followed by the analysis and planning of how the decarbonisation challenges for these ship types needs to be addressed.  All this resulted in the development of implementation pathways for six different types of vessels – long distance ships (freight), cruise ships, ferries, short sea shipping, inland waterways, off-shore vessels.

The present deliverable identified for each of the six intervention areas the main topics that are either relevant for the IWT, or that are transversal for both IWT and the maritime sectors. Subsequently, the PLATINA3 partners have proposed a number of key actions for each intervention area and its sections. A multitude of Framework Programme 7 (FP7), Horizon 2020 (H2020) and Horizon Europe (HEU) projects and project calls have also been analysed, to identify which actions need to be prioritized and which activities should not be duplicated.

The refined results are presented in the tables below, including the priority actions for the HEU working programme 2025-2027 and for deployment programmes, respectively. Implementing these key actions is seen as essential in the sector’s attempt to reach the target of zero-emissions by 2050. The actions are of regulatory (R), technical (T) or business (B) type. Their importance relates to the ultimate target towards a zero-emission inland shipping sector.

Recommended priority actions for HEU working programme 2025-2027

REngines need to be certified and tested for the (blends) with biofuels as alternative for the fossil diesel, e.g. Stage V engines to be certified for blends of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) higher than 8%.SAF – Biodiesel 1high
RFuel specifications need to be made stricter, including the measurement and enforcement due to fuel instability, corrosion, susceptibility to microbial growth, and poor cold-flow properties of certain biofuels. Also, proper government measures need to be more widely known and clear to the users and fuel providers.SAF – Biodiesel 2high
TInvestigate and demonstrate the maintenance needs of methanol as well as types of storage systems. (HEU & Innovation Fund)SAF – methanol 3high
TInvestigate and demonstrate the maintenance needs of different hydrogen carriers as well as types of storage systems, interoperability and safety of mobile hydrogen storage systems. (HEU & Innovation Fund)SAF- hydrogen 5high
RInvestigate and prepare the regulations of methane emissions.SAF – LNG 11medium
TDemonstration of the battery design life in operational conditions (HEU & Innovation Fund).Electrification 1high
RFurther develop ES-TRIN to take into account new battery types, ease battery handling and prevent standardisation issuesElectrification 3high
TDevelop new bow thrusters that allow operations in extreme shallow waters with equal or increased energy efficiency. The proposed solutions also need to prevent the accumulation of sediments in the thrusters.Design & Retrofit 1medium
TDevelop new materials, alloys, composites, etc. for shipbuilding and retrofitting. The new solutions need to offer similar technical characteristics and safety (fire resistance) while at the same time achieving a weight reduction at a reasonable price.Design & Retrofit 2medium
TInvestigate the adaptation of existing vessels from local-to-local modifications to the replacement of the aft ship, aiming largely at increasing the cargo capacity at low water while maintaining or improving energy efficiency.Design & Retrofit 7medium
TFurther development and testing of advanced systems (collision avoidance, AI, neural networks, sensor fusion and integration, etc.) to move from TRL 5-6 to TRL 8 to enable highly automated navigation in IWT.Digital Green 1medium
TResearch cost-effective, widely applicable and standardised bunkering/charging solutions, considering various potential bunkering/charging locations in different ports and the different types of vessels. (HEU)Ports – SAF 1medium
TStudies to making onshore power supply (OPS) points future ready so they can be utilized for (rapid) charging of batteries on board used for propulsion of the vesselPorts – OPS 1high
TStandardized components on vessel side for OPS and fast-charging (e.g. connections, length of cables).(HEU)Ports – OPS 2medium
R/BDevelopment and harmonisation of standards & procedures (both of technical and financial-administrative nature) for OPS and (fast) charging at seaports and inland ports (the ship-to-shore interfaces). (HEU)Ports – OPS 3medium

Recommended priority actions for deployment

TInvestigate the development of new types of fuel cells and their reliability (tilting, acceleration, vibrations, etc.) and cost in the waterborne transport environment.SAF – Common 2high
TDevelopment/ further optimization of engines systems (including aftertreatment systems) to (nearly) eliminate all types of air pollutants (focus on the most harmful ones first) for traditional fuels, as well as for some technologies converting sustainable alternative fuels. Therefore, new Stage V engines need to become further available and certified for usage of higher blends of biofuels, methanol and hydrogen, either dual fuel or single fuel. (HEU)SAF – Common 3high
TFurther upscaling of demonstrator projects to identify benefits/push the limits of the different fuels. (Priority for both HEU and the Innovation Fund)SAF – Common 4high
TDemonstration of the battery design life in operational conditions (HEU & Innovation Fund).Electrification 1high
TResearch to bring down the volumetric and gravimetric density of battery modules and pack integration, making onboard storage modular and standardised, and thus competitive with conventional fossil diesel. This could result in other types of hydrogen carriers and convertors and new types of electricity storage technology than the ones used today. (HEU)Electrification 4high
TRetrofitting existing vessels by the (optimal) integration of sustainable available solutions, including solutions using renewable energies.Design and Retrofit 8high
TDevelopment and implementation of new vessel designs that support multi-fuel engines and fuel cells, including aft-ship replacement for existing vessels. (HEU)Design and Retrofit 9medium
TInvestigate and demonstrate the benefits of using multiple (smaller) main engines to optimize engine load distribution and increasing energy management flexibility. (HEU)Design and Retrofit 10medium
TDemonstrator projects on bunkering sustainable alternative fuels at inland and sea ports, including energy providers. (Innovation Fund)Ports – SAF 2high
T/BAvailability, feasibility and use of swappable battery containers.Ports – OPS 4high
TFurther development of fast charging infrastructure.Ports – OPS 5high
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