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Key EU projects demonstrate clean waterborne transport

On 28 February 2008, the European Commission co-hosted a major event at the Port of Brussels, highlighting a number of innovative clean waterborne transport projects and showcasing the ‘CLEANEST SHIP’ demonstration vessel Victoria.

Simon Lisiecki and Janez Potočnik onboard the Victoria
Simon Lisiecki and Janez Potočnik

“Waterborne transport is by far the most fuel-efficient transport mode,” said European Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “Just one 1300-tonne barge like the Victoria can take hundreds or trucks off our roads. But we can still do more to increase the environmental performance of these ships.”

On average, inland waterborne vessels emit just 1/3 the CO 2 emitted by trucks per tonne-kilometre, due to higher energy efficiency. However, waterborne SOx emissions are still higher than for road transport.

Attacking the problem head on

CLEANEST SHIP is a European demonstration project led by energy giant BP. Its main deliverable is the 70-metre-long motor tank vessel Victoria, owned by BP, managed by Verenigde Tankrederij and operating in the Port of Rotterdam and Antwerp areas.

“The Victoria is full of new equipment and groundbreaking technologies from all over Europe,” said BP’s Simon Lisiecki. “This ship is the result of long-held dreams, more than a few arguments and a lot of very hard work. Now, we need to continue to work together to make clear the real competitive advantage offered by this kind of clean vessel to the waterborne transport industry.”

Filming the Victoria
Intense media interest

Member of European Parliament Dorette Corbey said, “ Victoria is a major achievement for Europe. The EU Parliament is at this moment working towards setting strong targets on climate change, including new legislation on cleaner ships. We believe it is necessary to look in all areas where improvements in environmental performance can be made. Europe must take the lead in winning the fight against climate change, and we can only win this battle through innovative initiatives like the ones we are seeing here today.”

Strong supporting line-up

In addition to CLEANEST SHIP, the Port Brussels event highlighted a number of other EU-funded projects aimed at improving the environmental performance of waterborne transport.

Bert de Vries of the Netherlands’ Shipbuilding Industry Association and Theresia Hacksteiner of the European Barge Union discussed the CREATING project, developing innovative solutions to make inland navigation more economically feasible and as clean and safe as possible. The HERCULES project, reducing emissions and increasing efficiency of marine engines, was presented by Nicolaos Kyrtatos of the National Technical University in Athens, and Carl-Erik Sandström presented the METHAPU project, investigating cleaner methanol-based power systems for waterborne transport.

A cleaner world and a better economy

“By supporting projects like CLEANEST SHIP, CREATING, HERCULES and METHAPU, we can defeat the problems of transport-related environmental pollution in Europe,” said Potočnik. “But of course these problems are not restricted to our continent. For too long we have been living in a world of illusions, that fossil fuels are harmless and inexhaustible, that we cannot harm the Earth. But business as usual is no longer an option. We have to act now and act decisively.

“Being at the forefront of innovation will allow us to export new technological solutions to the problems of global warming and climate change around the world. By doing this we create a strong competitive advantage for Europe that will keep our economy strong, while at the same time making our planet a better place to live.”