A fleet of autonomous and electricity-powered ships will soon be transporting goods to all ports in northern Europe. The vessels will help to significantly reduce the carbon emissions of the region’s marine industry.
A single cargo ship pollutes as much as a million cars, and shipping is indeed one of the most polluting sectors in the world. But things could change soon. A new freighter built by the Dutch carrier Port-Liner is set to sail the waters connecting the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam and Rotterdam this summer. The ship will be powered by a 6 meter long battery pack, charged using carbon-free energy from one of the largest energy providers in the Netherlands, Eneco. The ship will be able to operate completely autonomously and without crew — except during the first deployment.
These ships will eventually replace 23,000 trucks of goods that today use the roads. Given that most of these trucks run on diesel, replacing these polluting vehicles with electricity-powered ships will significantly improve the quality of the air in the Netherlands. These barges will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 18,000 tonnes per year and are scheduled for deployment in August. Five boats, 52 meters long and 6.7 meters, wide will then take the waterways. Each vessel will be able to carry 24 shipping containers, each weighing up to 425 tonnes. As for the batteries, they are supposed to work for 15 hours.
Port Liner also hopes to introduce a second, larger fleet of vessels in the third quarter of this year. The company expects to be able to build up to 500 ships a year. Port-Liner CEO Ton van Meegen is looking to lead the way. We may soon have autonomous fleets to deliver the goods to every port in the world. It should be remembered that 90% of world merchandise trade is made via maritime transport.