The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) announced the inauguration of the “Eiger-Nordwand”, the first inland waterway vessel to be retrofitted with LNG engines. This pilot vessel represents one of the milestones of the EU-supported “LNG Masterplan Rhine-Main-Danube” project, which involves a series of studies and trials to assess the use of gas as a shipping fuel in the European inland waterway sector. Its objective is to provide a platform for key public and private stakeholders to promote LNG uptake and build the necessary regulatory framework for the safe transport and use of LNG as vessel fuel.
“This is only a start. The LNG Masterplan is a prime example of the opportunities we have ahead to develop new technologies and new fuels, and I am confident that this project will continue to deliver benefits to inland waterways by analyzing and testing all aspects related to LNG deployment. It is rapidly emerging as a more environmentally friendly fuel for the shipping sector and its uptake is strongly encouraged by the European Union,” said INEA Executive Director Dirk Beckers.
As part of the project, a series of inland waterway vessels will be retrofitted with LNG engines 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 decarbonizing the entire transport supply chain.
The Eiger-Nordwand is the first such vessel, an important stepping stone which will allow assessing the feasibility and requirements of a large-scale deployment of LNG infrastructure and vessels across the European Union’s river and canal networks. The results of the project, due by December 2015, are expected to have a significant impact on LNG introduction and to promote this green means of transport in general.