A new world first for Port of Antwerp – a methanol-powered tugboat

A new world first for Port of Antwerp – a methanol-powered tugboat

European Commission gives green light for methatug

June23,  2021- Port of Antwerp is converting a tug to methanol propulsion – a world first. The ‘methatug’ is part of the European Union-funded Fastwater project, which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of methanol as a sustainable marine fuel. The European Commission approved the project this week, a decision that will help the Port of Antwerp take another important step in its transition to becoming a sustainable and CO2-neutral port.

Amendment of regulations

Rhine-based inland navigation craft must comply with the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine’s (CCNR) regulations, which had previously forbidden the use of methanol as a marine fuel. To receive the necessary dispensation, the methatug project was therefore submitted to the CESNI, the European committee that administers overall standards for inland navigation. The clearance process, which took 18 months of detailed negotiations, was finally agreed by European Commission earlier this year. The methatug is now expected be operational early 2022.

Fastwater consortium

The methatug is part of the Fastwater project, which was set up by a group of European maritime research and technology leaders, including Port of Antwerp. The consortium aims to demonstrate the feasibility of renewable methanol as a future-proof fuel for carbon-neutral shipping. The methatug development has been funded by the European research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.

Besides Port of Antwerp, which is supplying the tugboat, several other partners are involved in this project. Swedish shipbuilder, Scandinaos, designed the vessel’s modifications, ABC (Anglo Belgian Corporation) is responsible for converting the engine and for installing the methanol tanks and pipes, while the German company, Heinzmann, is adapting the injectors. The Belgian engineering company, Multi, carried out the feasibility study for the project.

A multi-fuel port

This marine fuel first forms part of a comprehensive greening programme for Port of Antwerp's own fleet, in which the organisation will systematically strive to integrate the most environmentally friendly technologies available. The port of Antwerp, the fifth largest bunkering port in the world, has integrated LNG into its bunkering market in the past few years. By 2025, it aims to become a fully-fledged multi-fuel port, in which seagoing and inland vessels will be able to bunker, not only conventional fuels, but also low-carbon alternatives such as methanol, hydrogen or electricity.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Port of Antwerp: "Together with our partners, we are constantly looking for innovative applications and opportunities for the transition to alternative and renewable energy sources. This methatug is a further and also an important step in the transition towards a sustainable and CO2-neutral port that has enabled us to overcome a variety of technical and regulatory challenges. Thanks to projects such as this, we are paving the way and hope to be an example and a source of inspiration for other ports.”
Annick De Ridder, port alderwoman: “Just like with the hydrotug, the hydrogen tugboat, this project confirms our pioneering role in the field of energy transition. The ecosystem of the Antwerp port platform forms an ideal, large-scale testing ground for a project of this type."
CESNI Secretariat, Benjamin Boyer: “The CESNI Secretariat is very enthusiastic about this retrofitted tugboat and is looking forward to learning from this experience. Indeed, it would be a major contribution to the ongoing regulatory work to allow methanol as fuel and then contribute to the energy transition of inland navigation.”

 

 

About Port of Antwerp

As Europe's second-largest port, the Port of Antwerp is a major lifeline for the Belgian economy: more than 300 line services to over 800 destinations ensure global connectivity. The Port of Antwerp annually handles around 231 million tonnes of international maritime freight, and is home to Europe's largest integrated chemical cluster. The Port of Antwerp accounts, directly and indirectly, for a total of around 143.000 jobs and more than €20 billion added value.  

True to its mission 'a home port vital for a sustainable future’, Antwerp Port Authority aims to flexibly respond to a rapidly evolving maritime market, allowing the port to continue playing its role as a leading world port. The emphasis in this respect is on cooperation, adaptability, a strong focus on innovation and digitisation, and on sustainable added value, as well as on responsibility towards society. 

Antwerp Port Authority is a limited liability company of public law, with the City of Antwerp as sole shareholder. It employs over 1.600 people. Port alderman Annick De Ridder is chairman of the Board of Directors and Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the day-to-day management. www.portofantwerp.com  

The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to communicatie@portofantwerp.com

Port of Antwerp
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