Old barges can run on lorry engines that go easier on the environment. New inland barges with sustainable propulsion are expensive and take longer to pay for themselves than deepsea shipping vessels. Now Rhenus has teamed up with DBR to convert old units in a way that goes easier on the environment, and also installed PV systems in Schaffhausen.
One step at a time gets you there too. No sooner had the Rhenus Group announced in May that it was converting two barge combinations to hydrogen-based fuel-cell drives (see page 15 of ITJ 23-26 / 2023) than it followed with the next coup.
Thus the group has converted two inland waterway push-barge combinations operated by the German inland shipping line Deutsche Binnenreederei (DBR) to stage V engines. The construction of the new hydrogen ships may be a long-term project, but converting older ships to propulsion systems that go easier on the environment is a short-term project.
The firm said that the cost-intensive move is being carried out as a “modernisation measure that is part of the further development of the Rhenus fleet to make it more environment-friendly.”
Converting the two ships took ten months. The engine room was gutted and old gensets were replaced by modern diesel generators from Scania and Caterpillar with three times the power – 740 kW truck engines that are also approved for inland waterway vessels.
Stage V exhaust gas treatment ensures particles that are harmful to the environment are filtered out. Rhenus can thus reduce its particulate matter emissions by up to 40%. Both ships will continue to ply their trade in eastern German waterways.
The firm is taking sustainability measures on land too. More than 2,500 photovoltaic modules on the roof of a Rhenus Switzerland logistics building in Schaffhausen are expected to generate 1.1 million kWh of electricity a year in future.
This sustainably generated energy will power operations in three buildings and logistics areas with 15,000 pallet slots, 23 loading ramps as well as block storage and picking areas.