Wartsila has delivered a swappable battery container system for an inland waterway vessel transporting containers of Heineken beer that will allow it to operate with zero emissions.

Two of the battery container units have been fitted to the 104-teu Alphenaar. The vessel has started operating for the Dutch beer maker which for many years ran the advertising slogan “Heineken refreshes the parts that other beers cannot reach".

The first order for the ZESpack system was placed by ZES (Zero Emission Services), a Netherlands based company founded in 2020 by Dutch bank ING, energy service provider Engie, the Port of Rotterdam, and Wartsila.

The system enables the vessel to operate on full electric power alone with an energy capacity equivalent to that of about 36 electric cars. The 45 battery modules totalling 2 MWh do not generate any carbon emissions.

The Aphenaar has been modified to allow the battery containers developed by the Finnish engine technology company to be mounted onboard. When discharged, they can be exchanged and charged onshore using energy from renewable sources.

“This replaceability is unique since battery containers have thus far been stationary installations,” Wartsila said.

Inland navigation accounts for 5% of CO2 emissions within the Dutch transport sector, and switching from diesel to electric propulsion will allow ships participating in the ZES service to eliminate around 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and 7 tonnes of NOx per year, said ZES chief executive Willem Dedden.

ZES aims to scale up in the short term to eight vessels, eight loading stations and 14 of the ZESpack systems. It wants to have 30 zero-emission shipping routes by 2030, saving up to 360,000 tonnes of CO2 and 2,800 tonnes of NOx.

The concept has been supported by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and is based on a network of open access charging points where depleted battery containers can be exchanged for fully charged replacements

A ‘pay-per-use’ model has been set-up whereby ZES charges only for the cost of consumed renewable energy to allow vessel operating costs to remain competitive, the companies said.

The Alphenaar is operating on the Zoeterwoude–Alpherium–Moerdijk corridor, and the first charging stations set up in Rotterdam, Moerdijk and Alblasserdam.