LNG-powered hopper barge “greenports 1” is launched in the Netherlands
70.50 metres long, 10.50 metres wide, 2.90 metres draught and an order volume of 4.9 million euros – these figures sum up the modern hopper barge that will join the fleet of the port management company bremenports during the second half of the year. The greenports I, presumably the first working vessel at a European seaport to be powered by eco-friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG), will then regularly carry silt dredged from the harbour basins in Bremerhaven to the disposal facility in Bremen-Seehausen. The vessel was launched at Shipyard Constructions Hoogezand Nieuwbouw (SCHN) in Foxhol in the Province of Groningen on Thursday (31 March 2016).
“This is a big day for the ports of Bremerhaven and Bremen,” said Robert Howe, Technical Managing Director of bremenports, at the ceremony in Foxhol. “Both Bremen’s government and bremenports are banking on sustainable port operations which pay due attention to environmental protection. One of the targets of our greenports strategy is to reduce shipping emissions at local level.” Accordingly, said Howe, the fleet of bremenports vessels was now undergoing ecological modernisation.
LNG is an eco- and climate-friendly alternative to conventional fuels, said the bremenports MD, which means that the emission of sulphur oxides and particulates can be reduced to virtually nil. “Emissions of nitrogen oxides will be reduced by around 85 per cent, carbon dioxide by approx. 20 per cent.”
Right now, the new-build vessel, which will bear the name “greenports 1”, still bears very little resemblance to a ship. At the ceremony on Thursday, the hull went down the slipway without superstructures, engines or other equipment. The gas-diesel-electric propulsion system still has to be tested by Sandfirden, the engine supplier, before it is installed, to ensure optimum interaction of the power generators (two gas engines, one diesel engine, one battery unit consisting of ten individual blocks, the drive system and on-board electronic equipment.
The two tanks, each of which can hold six cubic metres of LNG, are currently being manufactured in Asia and are scheduled for installation in June. They will receive their first filling of LNG at the shipyard shortly afterwards. “Once the vessel is in operation, fuel will be delivered by truck in Bremen or Bremerhaven,” explained Howe, adding that bremenports would also have to provide additional training for the crews, as this is a mandatory requirement for LNG-powered barges.
The SCHN shipyard is a relatively new company which has concentrated on the production of gas tankers for seagoing and inland shipping since it was founded in 2012. To date, SCHN has built one barge and four small seagoing ships. Three of these five vessels were equipped with LNG propulsion plant.
“LNG as a propulsion technology is still a niche market in the shipbuilding industry,” says Roelof Kregel, Technical Managing Director of the Dutch shipyard. He expects to see an increase in demand for the eco-friendly technology in future. “Building this barge for the ports of Bremen was a landmark project for the market,” said Kregel. “We deliver good work and hope to receive further orders – including orders for more hopper barges from bremenports.”