Wärtsilä’s replaceable battery containers begin use on Dutch inland waterway vessel

Wärtsilä’s replaceable battery containers begin use on Dutch inland waterway vessel
The Alphenaar is the first inland waterway vessel to use the zero-emissions service

The first vessel fitted with Wärtsilä’s mobile battery container solution has commenced operations, aiming to enable inland waterway vessels to run with zero emissions.

The Alphenaar began operating along the Zoeterwoude – Alpherium – Moerdijk corridor in the Netherlands on September 6, transporting beer for Heineken, which the first customer for the service.

The first order, comprising three units, was placed by Zero Emission Services (ZES), a Netherlands-based company founded in 2020 by ING Bank, energy and technical service provider Engie, the Port of Rotterdam, and Wärtsilä. The order was placed and two containers delivered in June 2021.

The battery containers are installed on a 104 teu inland waterway container vessel, which has been modified to allow two units to be mounted onboard.

The system enables the vessel to operate on full electric power alone, with no carbon emissions being generated. The energy capacity is equivalent to that of approximately 36 electric passenger cars.

When discharged, the containers can be exchanged and charged onshore using energy from renewable sources. This replaceability is unique since battery containers have thus far been stationary installations.

Willem Dedden, CEO of ZES, said: “Within the Dutch transport sector, inland navigation accounts for five percent of the CO2 emissions. By switching from diesel fuelled to electric propulsion, an important step can be taken towards realising the Paris Climate Agreement targets.

“Ships participating in the ZES service will eliminate around 1000 tonnes of CO2 and 7 tonnes of NOx per year.”

The swappable battery container is fully equipped with safety systems, including an onboard fire protection skid, while it is connected for remote monitoring.

The operational and certification trials were carried out commencing in the end of August 2021.

The concept, which is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, is based on a network of open access charging points where depleted battery containers can be exchanged for fully charged replacements.

A ‘pay-per-use’ model has been set-up whereby ZES charges only for the cost of consumed renewable energy, allowing the vessel’s operating costs to remain competitive.

Torsten Büssow, director, electrical and power management system, Wärtsilä Marine Power, stated: “Wärtsilä is committed to supporting all efforts towards the decarbonisation of shipping. This initiative is part of that commitment.

“We have leveraged our in-house know-how in maritime battery and hybrid systems, our shore power and remote connection capabilities, as well as our extensive experience in serving inland waterway applications for the development of this product.”