‘Tesla of the Canals’ fully electric autonomous container barges to hit Dutch waters this summer

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

An autonomous ship dubbed the ‘Tesla of the Canals’ will ship goods between Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam this summer. The boat built by Dutch company Port-Liner will cruise along the canals powered by a set of 6m-long batteries charged using carbon-free energy. Once in full operation, the ships will operate completely autonomously. However, while the first of the ships are rolled out, the crew will stay with the boats to oversee these maiden voyages.

The boats are expected to have a significant impact on air quality in the Netherlands. Each ship can carry 24 shipping containers weighing up to 425 tonnes. This means the ships will take some of the loads previously carried by diesel-powered freight trucks, reducing their numbers on the roads and consequently air pollution.

The first boats will take to the water in August when five of the 52 x 6.7m barges enter the canals. Each ship can operate for 15 hours on a single battery charge.

The second round of ships is planned to be released later in the year. Port-Liner hopes to be able to reach a production rate of 500 boats per year. These further boats will also be bigger in size and each is claimed to offer a reduction of 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The electric barge project was made possible by grants and subsidies of €7million from the European Union and the participating ports. Additionally, the technology has the possibility to be retrofitted to existing barges which means these older diesel vessels can become greener.


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