Zero emission inland shipping is being accelerated

The Nationaal Groeifonds supports the ZES concept with an investment of 50 mln for the inland shipping sector.


Rotterdam, 14 April 2022 – Zero Emission Services (ZES), provider of a full range of products and services for zero-emission inland shipping, announces today that it will receive an investment through the Nationaal Groeifonds for the accelerated implementation of their innovative system solution for inland shipping. This is an investment in the entire value chain in which ZES operates. The investment will be used for the development of 75 battery containers for maritime application (ZESpacks), 14 docking stations where the ZESpacks are charged and 45 electrified inland vessels.

Bart Hoevenaars, CEO of ZES explains: “This is not only good news for the inland shipping sector and for ZES, but above all, it leads to a better living environment. Now, completely clean sailing will be possible without the emission of CO2, nitrogen and particulates. In addition, it is also silent. The Nationaal Groeifonds supports skippers in investing in an electric propulsion line. Zero Emission Services can now invest in the most expensive part, the battery containers, so that these skippers only pay for use. With the support, publicly accessible docking stations can also be realised along a number of crucial shipping routes for inland navigation in the Netherlands. By making it possible to invest in these three things simultaneously, the well-known chicken-and-egg dilemma for green transport is broken.

We thank the Ministry of I&W for their cooperation in the past year in going through this careful process. Together with them, we are convinced that with this support, the Nationaal Groeifonds will strengthen the competitive position of this important transport sector for the Netherlands. “

Accelerated scaling possible

Unless there is simultaneous investment in electrically powered ships, battery containers and docking infrastructure, the breakthrough towards zero-emission will not happen. ZESpacks cannot be used on ships without an electric drive train and the ships that do have an electric drive train cannot be charged without a docking infrastructure.  Cooperation and coordination between the parties involved is crucial. The 50 million investment makes it possible to simultaneously invest in the docking infrastructure, the energy carriers and the ships with an electric drive line.

The investment of the Nationaal Groeifonds is an investment in a proven system. The first ship, the Alphenaar of CCT, has been sailing on the basis of exchangeable energy containers since September 2021. The ship sails between Alphen aan den Rijn and Moerdijk in service for Heineken. Heineken and its carrier CCT have both made considerable efforts to be able to operate the first zero-emission inland navigation vessel with the ZES system. With the investment of the Nationaal Groeifonds, the number of ships, batteries and docking stations can be scaled up more quickly. When the first 45 ships sail with the help of this investment, the expectation is that the market will be able to grow in number of ships, battery container and docking stations by its own means.

Positive impact on the climate
If the Netherlands switches over completely to zero-emission inland navigation vessels, this will save a cumulative 6.6 megatonnes of CO2 and up to 17,500 tonnes of NOx by 2050. As a result, cities, nature areas and (inland) ports will become cleaner and quieter. The use of the ZESpacks also increases the adaptability of solar and wind parks, because they can store generated energy until the moment the energy is actually required. The physical infrastructure for the docking stations is thus a building block for a local ‘clean energy hub’. Apart from docking the battery containers with clean energy, docking stations also offer possibilities to reinforce the electricity grid. The battery containers that are charged here can also be used to balance the energy network. An increasingly topical theme in the Netherlands.

Boosting the economy and employment

The innovative character of the ZES concept creates jobs in new construction and the conversion of ships. After all, instead of buying new ships, existing ships can be converted to electrically powered ships. Other jobs are created within the daily operations of docking stations and other parts within the value chain. The ZES system offers the Netherlands opportunities to maintain its lead as an important, innovative logistics sector and can serve as an example for similar challenges in other sectors.

Nationaal Groeifonds

The Nationaal Groeifonds is an initiative of the Ministries of Economic Affairs & Climate Change and  Finance. With the Nationaal Groeifonds, the government is setting aside €20 billion for projects between 2021 and 2025. It concerns targeted investments for structural and sustainable economic growth.

With the “Green Deal Zeevaart, Binnenvaart en Havens”, the Netherlands commits itself to the objective of reducing the CO2 emissions of the Dutch inland shipping fleet by 40% to 50% in 2030 compared to 2015. Moreover, a minimum of 150 ships will have to sail zero-emission in that year.