Cost Savings Through Energy Efficiency Gains in IWT

Cost Savings Through Energy Efficiency Gains in IWT


J Gille, J Harmsen, Ecorys, NL


In countries with dense waterway networks, IWT can compete with other transport modes. Energy efficiency of IWT however varies between countries: there is much room for optimization. As an example, a business case on dual fuel in Bangladesh is given.


Transport accounts for a substantial share of global CO2 emissions - 23 percent according to IEA - and its share has increased in the past decade. Within transport, the inland waterway sector is considered one of the most environmental friendly with lowest emissions per ton-km transported. Large variations in emissions however exist between countries. Intensity of fleet modernisation, logistics efficiency as well as having well-developed co-modality services or not, can greatly influence the actual environmental performance of inland shipping. Average emissions of IW transport between countries range from 25 gr CO2/ ton-km to 70 gr CO2/ ton-km.

In developing countries, the energy efficiency performance of inland vessels is assumed to be lower than in developed IWT countries due to the use of older engine technologies and older vessel designs. Furthermore, transport is often performed by relatively small vessels. Improvements that increase the energy efficiency of the IW fleet in these countries may thus have an important impact on both its contribution to an improved climate as well as changing its cost competitive position towards other modes.

A review on performances worldwide was made, showing the ranges of energy efficiency and underlying causes of the differences between countries. These relate to age of fleet, size and characteristics of vessels, as well as conditions of waterways. Furthermore the engines used are an important factor. The study compares data on the Netherlands, Germany, France, the United States, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

Various means exist to raise the energy efficiency of IW vessels and thereby reducing the GHG emissions. Four means are assessed:
1. optimization of the IWT operations;
2. minimizing the resistance of the hull and of barge convoys;
3. efficiency of propulsion methods and steering systems;
4. adapting fairways in view of optimum ship size and shape.
A distinction is made between conventional means and advanced means. Among the latter, we consider for instance the use of alternative fuels (bio-diesel, CNG/LNG, dual fuel, electricity or hydrogen), the use of advanced low resistance ship design, advanced high efficiency propulsion systems, and new logistical concepts, changing the operation methods of ships, including new vessel designs.

Specific attention is given to the method of applying alternative fuels. Within the study the feasibility of applying dual fuel systems is evaluated using a pilot concept on a dedicated ferry route in Bangladesh. The results of this assessment show a great financial benefit as well as substantial environmental savings. However several barriers need to be passed and considerations on safety and logistics to be discussed. The paper presents the results and concludes with recommendations on applying the system on this route and elsewhere.


Association for European Transport