On Tuesday, 3 September 2013, in Rotterdam, Ms Edwige Belliard, President of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR), had the honour of naming the tanker ‘Greenrhine’, built by Dutch shipbuilders Interstream Barging, thus becoming the sponsor of one of the first four tanker vessels to be propelled exclusively by liquefied natural gas (LNG) operating on the Rhine.
It has taken two years to develop this type of tanker vessel, intended primarily for the transport of oil-based products and chemicals. The ‘Greenrhine’ takes to the water after ‘Greenstream’ last March; the ‘Greenstream’ was the first of the shipbuilder’s four vessels to be built for this new type of propulsion.
According to the information supplied by the manufacturer, by using LNG as the sole fuel supplying its four electricity generators, the ‘Greenrhine’ produces 25% less CO2 and 80% less nitrogen oxides (NOx), and at the same time makes more efficient use of the energy produced. The vessel emits no sulphur (SO2) or particles whatsoever, and produces much less noise to disturb people living near the banks of the Rhine. All these reasons confirm the considerable progress for inland navigation commissioning vessels of this type represents.
The CCNR actively supports the sector’s initiatives in favour of the sustainable development of inland navigation, and believes reducing emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases to be an essential feature of this. As soon as the first plans for using LNG were announced in February 2011, the CCNR therefore began to look into its use and its supervision with a view to ensuring the high safety standards of inland navigation at the same time as promoting technological innovation. The CCNR has already authorised eight LNG-propelled vessels to operate on the Rhine; setting up technical and operational prescriptions for using LNG and allowing even more extensive use of it is one of the priorities in the CCNR’s current work programme.
The CCNR is also aware of the future prospects that the use of this alternative fuel opens up. Last November it therefore committed itself to giving the sector its full support in promoting innovation, encouraging exchanges of information, and coordinating projects. One of its first actual achievements is a joint databank of LNG projects in inland navigation in Europe which is to go on-line in the very near future.
In her address, Ms Belliard emphasised that the development of LNG-propelled vessels was part of a policy aimed at reducing the ecological footprint of inland navigation in Europe. The sustainable development of inland navigation in Europe is indeed one of the priorities for France’s two-year presidency of the CCNR, which ends at the end of this year. The CCNR’s 2013 Congress, entitled “Bringing together the competences for sustainable inland navigation”, to be held in Strasbourg on 3 and 4 December 2013, will mark the end of the two-year presidency. On this occasion, the CCNR will not fail to highlight both the progress already made by the sector in terms of sustainable development and steps to take to ensure the sustainable development of the sector in the years to come.