Dutch inland shipping: Den Bosch Max Groen to sail fully electric in 2024

Cargo ship Den Bosch Max Groen is expected to operate fully emission-free between Den Bosch, Maasvlakte, and Moerdijk in the Netherlands by April 2024, becoming the first ship to do so.


Following the 2021-built Den Bosch Max Groen, four more zero-emission vessels will follow. This development marks a joint effort to accelerate the sustainability of inland shipping in the region.

Inland terminal operator BCTN, part of the Inland Terminals Group (ITG), logistics service provider Nedcargo, and technology supplier Zero Emission Services (ZES) share a vision to achieve emission-free operations along crucial corridors and accelerate the sustainability of inland shipping. Collaborating across the entire logistics chain is the shared goal outlined in Project Zero.0, where agreements and objectives are defined.

The 90-meter-long Den Bosch Max Groen was completed in 2021. Owned by Nedcargo, the vessel was prepared for electric navigation during its construction.

To sail electrically with standard 20ft modular energy containers (ZESpacks), several modifications are required. For a fully emission-free voyage, the diesel generator will be removed, and a fixed battery pack will be installed as a replacement. The ZESpacks will be charged using green energy through the latest generation of 2x 1MVA charging stations from ZES.

Both the charging stations and ZESpacks are equipped with a 1MW Megawatt Charging System (MCS) connector, allowing the ZESpacks to be fully charged in just 3 hours.

The green energy is supplied based on Dutch origin guarantee certificates, and the usage of ZESpacks operates on an innovative pay-per-use payment model.

By electrifying the Den Bosch Max Groen, it is estimated that this operation will annually reduce approximately 715 tons of CO2 and 13 tons of NOx emissions. Scaling up to a fleet of five emission-free ships will significantly increase the impact.

To provide loaded ZESpacks to the Den Bosch Max Groen, and eventually to the Den Bosch Max Blauw, Nijmegen Max, Venray Max, and Roermond Max, the latest generation of ZES charging stations will be developed at various strategic locations. The first charging station will be established at the BCTN terminal in Alblasserdam in the first quarter of 2024. Charging stations in Den Bosch (BCTN terminal), in Moerdijk, and at the Prins Johan Frisohaven in Rotterdam will follow shortly after.

“As the largest inland terminal operator in the Benelux, we aim to take the lead in further greening inland shipping. The innovation project involving the electrification of the Den Bosch Max Groen is an excellent initial step toward achieving this goal. Upon a successful evaluation of the project, multiple more ships will follow,” Eduard Backer, CEO of Inland Terminals Group, commented.

“Nedcargo has decided to take a bold step and invest in the future. By 2050, inland shipping must be zero emission. If everyone waits until 2045, it will go wrong. You cannot convert six thousand ships in such a short period. We want to be involved now, and we are ready. Together with BCTN and ZES, we will establish a sustainable business case. This pilot is our starting point,” Marnix Vos, Project Manager at Nedcargo, said.

“Following a successful pilot with the Alphenaar, from which valuable lessons were learned, this agreement between ZES, Nedcargo, and BCTN represents an extremely important and significant step towards scaling up ZES in the Netherlands,” Bart Hoevenaars, CEO of Zero Emission Services, noted.

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Approximately €50 million has been allocated from the National Growth Fund (NGF) for the greening of inland shipping. A portion of this fund has been designated for the development of ZES infrastructure, and another portion for ship owners for the conversion or construction of ships. Nedcargo is financing the ship conversion using subsidies from the I&W Greendeal and subsidies from the I&W Ship Subsidy Regulation (NGF). ZES is investing in the development of infrastructure and utilizing the allocated NGF subsidy for this purpose.

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