Wärtsilä replaceable battery containers for inland waterway vessel

By Jack Burke07 September 2021

Zero Emission Services (ZES) sails first Dutch inland vessel to use interchangeable energy containers for propulsion

Wärtsilä said it has developed and delivered a mobile battery container solution that will enable inland waterway vessels to operate with zero emissions.

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

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 Alphenaar, the first Dutch inland vessel to use interchangeable energy containers for propulsion. The Alphenaar sails between Alphen aan den Rijn and Moerdijk transporting beer for Heineken, ZES’s first end customer.

Wärtsilä has been working in recent months on assembling and testing the energy containers, which are equipped with safety and communication systems, and 45 battery modules totaling 2 MWh – comparable to the capacity of around 36 electric cars. The ZESpack is completely tailor-made for ZES. The interchangeability of the containers, which until now have been stationary installations, is particularly unique, the companies said. The ZESpacks are charged with certified green energy at the first ZES charging station on the Alpherium, CCT’s container terminal in Alphen aan den Rijn. This charging station, developed in by ENGIE, was delivered in April. In July, the Alphenaar was converted and fitted with, among other things, the standard plug connection for receiving the ZESpacks. The first successful sea trial took place at the end of August. With operations up and running, ZES will start gaining user experience to achieve completely emission-free shipping as soon as possible.

The system enables the vessel to operate on full electric power alone, with no carbon emissions being generated. 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.

“Within the Dutch transport sector, inland navigation accounts for 5% of the CO2 emissions. By switching from diesel fueled to electric propulsion, an important step can be taken towards realizing 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,” said Willem Dedden, CEO of ZES.

The Wärtsilä swappable battery container is fully equipped with safety systems, including an onboard fire protection skid. 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. Here, 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. This allows the vessel’s operating costs to remain competitive.

This first vessel fitted with the Wärtsilä battery containers, the ‘Alphenaar’ commenced operations along the Zoeterwoude – Alpherium – Moerdijk corridor in the Netherlands on Sept. 6. The vessel transports beer for HEINEKEN, who is the first customer for the service.

“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,” says Torsten Büssow, Director, Electrical & Power Management System, Wärtsilä Marine Power.

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