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Port-Liner is to roll-out the first fully electric, emission-free barges in Europe.
Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Rotterdam ports will host the new vessels, capable of handling 24-280 20ft containers, from August.
The launch follows a sizeable investment in the technology by the European Union
A spokesperson for Port of Antwerp confirmed to The Loadstar it had added €200,000 to the EU €7m subsidy as part of a wider initiative to improve port efficiency.
Operators in Antwerp are expecting five of the new barges in August, with six larger vessels – capable of carrying 280 containers – due later in the third quarter.
They will operate between De Kempen intermodal terminal in South Netherlands and Antwerp, and are expected to remove 23,000 trucks from the roads annually.
Chief executive of Port-Liner Ton van Meegen told The Loadstar the barges would be the first in the world to sail on carbon-neutral batteries, adding that the smaller ones could handle more containers, but low bridges in Belgium and the Netherlands prevented this.
He said: “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. 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.”
What makes Port-Liner’s vessels unique is housing the battery in a container that can be stored on any vessel.
“This allows us to retrofit barges already in operation, which is a big boost for the industry’s green energy credentials,” said Mr van Meegen. “The containers are charged onshore by carbon-free energy provider Eneco, which sources solar power, windmills and renewables.”