Dutch government to act as launching customer in zero-emission ships plan

The Dutch “Master plan for a zero-emission maritime sector” aims for 30 zero-emission ocean-going and inland ships in 2030. Central to the plan is the financing and development of the needed technologies. Both the Ministry of Defence and Rijkswaterstaat will be acting as launching customers in the project.

The project could take the form of 30 pilot projects and sees the recovery from the corona pandemic as an opportunity to accelerate the maritime energy transition. ‘The Netherlands must become a world leader in sustainable shipbuilding and shipping,’ says Rob Verkerk, chairman of Nederland Maritiem Land. ‘With this initiative, the Dutch government will be the first to sail emission-free ships and we will strengthen our international competitive position.’

The Master plan assumes industry to finance up to 75 per cent independently. To avoid delays, it seeks EUR 250 million in co-financing from the National Growth Fund or the European Recovery & Resilience Fund (RRF).

In 2019, the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management concluded a national Green Deal for Maritime Shipping, Inland Shipping and Ports. The green deal includes ambitions and targets to meet climate objectives. The Maritime Master Plan follows these as a concrete roadmap to 2030.

Launching customer

The concept of launching customer means as much as first customer. Having a first customer inspires confidence and is very important for further development, financing and follow-up assignments.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence has many upcoming vessel replacement projects, such as the M frigates, mine hunters and submarines. Sustainability is an important part of these projects. Rijkswaterstaat, on the other hand, is the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Through the Rijksrederij it manages a fleet of 100 vessels such as patrol and multi-purpose vessels for inspection and waterway management among other things.

As part of the government, they have a leading role to play in decarbonising shipping. As launching customers they can speed up the development of green technologies, which will then also become available for industry in general.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.