The CEDA Dredging Days are long gone1. Maybe some of you still have a faint memory of the innovative online event. After this event I was quite occupied and not able to do a proper review. I did even miss the opportunity for the traditional new years welcome post. My apologies, more to that another time. Concerning the Dredging Days. I still kept some nagging thoughts about the Energy transition panel discussion that I want to share with you. And the recent invitation for participating in the CEDA Commission on Decarbonisation is another good motivation2.
On the second day of the conference there was a session with a panel discussion on the ‘Energy transition in the dredging industry’. Several experts in the dredging community were invited to present their perspective on the energy transition. From the legislation side (Dagmar Nelissen, CE Delft), clients (Joris Vijverberg, Rijkswaterstaat), suppliers (Benny Mestemaker, Royal IHC) and contractors (Sven Kramer, Van Oord). The panel was moderated by Paul Vercruijsse from the CEDA Working Group on Energy Efficiency3.
The take-aways of the panellists were amongst others: ‘No single solution for all, Transitional fuels should be flexible, Transition should be facilitated by regulation, There might be a financial objection to change.’ Along these lines, there were polls on the perspective of the audience. The response to two of the polls surprised the panellists.
As I was present there, I have my own perspective on the discussion. First the rate of transition. The panel was surprised that the audience was expecting a transition ahead of the IMO planning. I was responding to our own national situation. Currently I see so some initiatives to convert dredges and projects to electric drives, that it could be possible4,5,6. But I expect to see a next generation of newbuilds soon that will be virtually or completely decarbonized.
The other surprise is was the preference for hydrogen as the final fuel of the future. Although all the alternatives do have better performance, are easier to store or downright cheaper according to the experts in the panel. That might be very well, but I think the answer is in the presentation by Benny Mestemaker. It will simply be the fuel with the lowest emission to supply and use. In the end we will have to go to that dot on the horizon. And I do see other advantages where my opinion differs from the experts. The complaints of the panel was the complete lack of infrastructure for hydrogen at both the project sites and the vessels themselves.
Concerning the infrastructure near the project site. Yes, there are no installations yet. However, the thing is. You can find renewably generated hydrogen everywhere. As long as you have access to sun, wind and water. And that is exactly where most dredging projects are happening. Off course, there is no factory yet, but that is outdated philosophy. There will be movable plants available that will create a new market. e.g. I am very hopeful of initiatives like ‘Solar Duck’7. They can roam the projects delivering tailor made hydrogen production, right where you need it.
Concerning the vessels. Yes, the installation to sail the vessel on hydrogen will take up a lot of valuable cargo space. But, that is no technical problem. We’ve had technologies that required an even bigger chunk of the vessel deadweight: coal burning steam ships. The big equalizer is: there was no other solution. Everybody was using it. And that is the same here. I think there will be no other solution than to use hydrogen, as it is completely emission free. One of my perspectives on design choices: select the solution that you know will solve the problem!
Transition schedule to convert to fossil fuel free dredging equipment
- CEDA Dredging Days 2021, CEDA
- Invitation to CEDA Commission on Decarbonisation (CCD), CEDA
- CEDA Working Group on Energy Efficiency (WGEE), CEDA
- Transitiepad Kustlijnzorg en Vaargeulonderhoud, Rijkswaterstaat
- Zero Emission Dredging Hub van start, EDB Drechtsteden
- Complete zandfabriek zo hoog als een flatgebouw dobbert ineens in de voorhaven van Deest, De Gelderlander
- Electrifying the world with offshore floating solar, SolarDuck
CEDA will provide access to the panel discussion shortly. Dredging Days attendees can still (re-) watch it on the conference platform.