Innovation 06-12-2023
Blue economy, Energietransitie

Green Maritime Coalition gets to work on ‘green’ ships

The maritime sector in the Northern Netherlands presented the results of the Green Maritime Coalition’s “Green and Digital Maritime Innovation Ecosystem Northern Netherlands” (GDMIEN-NL) project at its first symposium. From this innovation ecosystem, the Northern Netherlands maritime manufacturing industry can take the lead in the transition towards making seagoing vessels more sustainable.


The Coaltions also seeks to strengthen the position of the Northern shipyards, co-makers, and technology developers as international frontrunners in the sector.


The “Green Maritime Coalition”, founded on the initiative of the Groninger Maritime Board and Conoship International, aims to be at the forefront of the transition to large-scale emission-free shipping and digitised shipbuilding. The new cooperation structures developed in the GDMIEN-NL project are needed to (further) develop four innovative technologies in facilitation of the shift from fossil to renewable energy in shipping and implementation of digital shipbuilding process solutions.


Maritime innovation ecosystem

In the GDMIEN-NL project, 21 companies, educational institutions, and technology developers have together created the innovation ecosystem for the Green Maritime Coalition. This has led to the development of new cooperative structures. Collaboration is needed to realise and start applying technology for innovative “green” shipping and digitised shipbuilding. The new cooperative structures will be developed around four innovative technologies regarding the shift from fossil to renewable energy:


  • All-electric drive based on renewable Redox Flow battery technology.
  • 30-metre VentoFoils XL, wind propulsion for ships.
  • Sailing on hydrogen (H2) by “marinising” fuel cells of 300–3000 kW.
  • CO2 capture and liquefaction systems on ships.


The four “green” technologies offer opportunities for the new maritime manufacturing industry, providing a start-up, two scale-ups and a new joint venture. Coupling this with the digital opportunities for robotisation in the existing maritime manufacturing industry, shipyards and suppliers in the shipbuilding processes, among others, will give a boost to strengthening the position as Northern international frontrunners.


‘With the development of these Northern Dutch innovations in the maritime ecosystem, we will be able to further strengthen both our position in global shipbuilding and shipping,’ says Egbert Vuursteen, CEO of Royal Wagenborg and chairman of the Groningen Maritime Board.


Ventofoils for all ship types

During the symposium, promising results were shared, such as from Groningen-based scale-up Econowind, which is now world market leader in auxiliary wind propulsion on seagoing vessels with its 16-metre VentoFoils.


Together with Scheepswerf Bijlsma, Conoship, NHL-Stenden/Maritiem Instituut Willem Barendsz and several more partners, Econowind is currently developing 30-metre VentoFoils, the prototype of which is under construction in Warten. In addition to wind propulsion for coastal vessels, this will allow the Northern companies to provide wind propulsion to the global fleet of large bulk carriers and tankers.


CO2 capture systems, fuel cells and batteries

There are plans to establish a production site in Veendam at Bouman Industries to produce CO2 capture systems on ships. This will be developed by Bouman/Carbotreat and Conoship, which have set up the new joint venture Carbotreat Maritime for this purpose.


In Hoogezand, Holthausen Clean Technology will focus on the development of marine fuel cells. In the future, these will enable workboats and coastal vessels to sail entirely emission-free on sustainably produced hydrogen for distances of up to 1500 to 2000 miles.


Several parties in the Northern Netherlands will also collaborate with an international developer on a new type of battery technology being developed for solar farms. This “Redox Flow Battery” technology offers good opportunities for application in workboats, and coastal vessels will eventually be able to sail entirely electrically on routes of up to 500 miles.


Strategic Plans

For each of these new technologies with the relevant value chain, a Strategic Plan was developed for the period until 2030, with the steps to get from R&D to large-scale industrial production of the installations in the Northern Netherlands. For this, the necessary investments have been worked out, as well as the potential opportunities for support from provincial, national, and European governments, in terms of subsidies, financing, and funding guarantees.


Henk Emmens, Deputy of Economy for the province of Groningen: ‘The maritime industry in the Northern Netherlands is more innovative than ever, strong and of great importance to the economy. This sector is making impressive plans to take advantage of the great opportunities that the transition to sustainable shipping has to offer for the Northern Maritime manufacturing industry. I am pleased that this challenge is being taken up in this unique way of collaboration between business and educational institutions. The Northern maritime industry really seems to be one of ‘both deeds and words’: first the development of a maritime innovation ecosystem, and from there robots will work on shipyards and innovative installations will be built to sail ships sustainably.’


A similar Strategic Plan has also been developed for digitising and robotising shipyards and co-makers, centred around establishing a “Regional Training and Testing Centre Smart Shipbuilding” (ROTSS). In it, the Northern shipyards will work together on solutions to automate and robotise shipbuilding processes as well as training new and existing professionals in applying this new technology at the shipyards.


Creating the drive

By linking these new activities for the “greening” of shipping to digitalisation and robotisation of the Northern shipbuilding industry, the Green Maritime Coalition is creating the drive for the strengthening of the entire maritime manufacturing industry in the Northern Netherlands.


‘The maritime ecosystem, under the name Green Maritime Coalition (GMC), will continue to further develop the five value chains together and search for the latest promising maritime innovations of tomorrow. From the value chains, the various technologies will be developed through R&D tracks by the cooperation of multiple educational institutions and partners. Prototypes are being built that will be tested and demonstrated in real-world applications on seagoing vessels,’ states Guus van der Bles director of R&D at Conoship International.


Van der Bles concludes: ‘With increasing pressure to reduce emissions, the commercial opportunities for the new installations are rapidly multiplying and increasingly, large-scale industrial activities are coming into the picture for the Northern and global markets. The opportunities offered by the energy transition can thus really be exploited by the entire maritime ecosystem in the Northern Netherlands.’


Bron: SWZ Maritime