The European Commission’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) says that thanks to one of its EU-supported actions, another inland waterway vessel with pollution-reducing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) engines, the “Sirocco”, has just been commissioned. The Sirocco represents one of the milestones of the EU-supported “LNG Masterplan Rhine-Main-Danube” project, which is a series of studies and trials to assess the use of LNG as a shipping fuel in the European inland waterway sector.
INEA refers to the commissioning as a great technical accomplishment that paves the way for more clean fuels to be deployed on the entire transport supply chain along the inland waterway networks. It is a key step in the realisation of the “LNG Masterplan” project, one of the biggest innovation projects financed through the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) programme, which was selected for funding under the 2012 TEN-T Multi-Annual Call.
Benefitting from over €40 million (USD 51 million) of EU support and implemented by a consortium of 33 companies and organisations from the public and private sectors across 12 EU Member States* the “LNG Masterplan” consists of a series of studies and pilot deployments for LNG as fuel for inland vessels, as well as cargo transported on waterways and distributed via inland ports along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. The objective is to provide a platform for key public and private stakeholders to promote LNG uptake in the inland waterway sector and build the necessary regulatory framework for the safe transport and use of LNG as vessel fuel.
Besides commissioning the Sirocco, the project is also supporting the switch from traditional engines to LNG ones capable of substantially decreasing nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate emissions – the main pollutants from inland waterway transport – as well as improving local air quality alongside waterways and ports. This is a win-win situation for business and society and improves the environmental performance of the inland waterway sector as a whole whilst decarbonising the entire transport supply chain.
The results of the “LNG Masterplan” project, due by December 2015, are expected to have a significant impact on LNG’s introduction on the European inland waterway networks and to promote this means of transport in general.
*Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia