Inland shipping is a major contributor to air pollutant emissions in the Netherlands, accounting for 5% and 11% of total national carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions, respectively. A sustainable solution has been developed by Zero Emissions Services (ZES) in the form of exchangeable battery containers to propel inland vessels without emissions.

The concept entails the use of standard 20 ft containers packed with 45 lithium-ion battery modules totaling 2 MWh. The interchangeable batteries can be swapped out for fully charged units at an exchange station in as little as 15 minutes in a pay-per-use system that enables operators to pay only for the use of energy. Charging station infrastructure is planned to serve as energy hubs that can stabilize the grid during peak loads and where other vehicles can also charge.

The interchangeable energy container system has been tested with the Alphenaar, which sails between Alphen aan den Rijn and Moerdijk, transporting beer for Heineken as the first ZES customer. Near-term goals include expanding operations to include eight vessels, 14 battery container packs and eight loading stations, which can charge two packs in 2.5 hours.

ZES plans to service 30 shipping routes by 2030 and avoid emissions of up to 360,000 tons of CO2 and 2,800 tons of NOx.

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