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Conference set to accelerate 'Greening' of Inland shipping on the Thames

The first London conference dedicated to Greening Inland Shipping has been welcomed by delegates and is set to accelerate the adoption of cleaner propulsion technologies on the Thames.

In the space of just seven hours the 190 plus delegates heard from 21 speakers and had opportunity speak with 19 companies and institutions in the exhibition. International speakers from Finland, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands shared their experience on ground breaking research, product innovation and lessons learnt in adopting new technology across inland ferry, barge and tug operations.

International research projects showcased at the event included: inland freight focused CLean INland SHipping (CLINSH), all electric ferry research TrAM Transport Advanced and Modular, and hydrogen focused projects HySeas III and FLAGSHIPS. Hans Thornell of Green City Ferries showcased a unique all electric ferry which ‘floats’ on a cushion of air to reduce friction and MBNA Thames Clippers set out their plans for the UK’s first all-electric ferry on the Thames at Rotherhithe.

Commenting on the event, which the Port of London Authority (PLA) convened as part of its air quality strategy, Wood’s Silver Fleet managing director, Tom Woods, said: “The conference was a great way to find out what technology is out there and who we need to be talking to when we want to find out more. We’re now in a position where our discussions about future fleet developments will be much better informed. As we push ahead with investment in our pier and other infrastructure, it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

London’s deputy Mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues delivered the key note address at Greening Inland Shipping. She heralded Cross River Partnership (CRP) who opened the first round of funding applications for vessel operators on the Thames to bid to have their vessels retrofitted with greener propulsion systems, with support from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund. More details on the Fund can be found here: https://crossriverpartnership.org/projects/clean-air-thames/https://crossriverpartnership.org/projects/clean-air-thames/

Alongside the Mayor’s initiative, the Department for Transport (DfT) set out its £1 million package of support for clean maritime innovation that is being delivered through MarRI-UK, a joint UK industry and academia group newly set up to tackle innovation and technology challenges. DfT head of maritime environment, technology and innovation, Claire McAllister revealed that their initial call for expressions of interest was open now, with grant support available for early stage research projects related to clean maritime.

Hege Økland, CEO, NCE Maritime CleanTech.

Charles Haine, environmental maritime sector lead with WSP said: “Rivers are the beating heart of global cities like London and have such an important role to play for the economic, social and environmental health of the city. The agenda for cleaner vessels on rivers is clear, and with much momentum in this area at the moment – including commitments to de-carbonise the maritime sector more broadly – the conference was a timely intervention from the PLA. We can see that the UK and London governments are moving on this so it was superb to see so many people coming to learn about the cleaner technologies on offer. The ‘buzz’ in the discussions suggests we’re set to see rapid adoption of innovation over the next 18 months.”

The PLA’s road mapping exercise was also showcased. It is set to identify the most promising solutions and how potential blocks to progress can be overcome across the range of technology options – better diesel, hybrid, all electric and hydrogen fuel.

PLA’s environment manager, Tanya Ferry concluded: “Today was all about bringing people together. Getting vessel operators on the Thames in the same space as researchers and technology providers, is set to accelerate progress. The road map is a critical next step in making sure that the momentum we’ve started to build here is sustained into projects which reduce emissions from vessels on the Thames.”

– ends –

Notes to editors:

  • The PLA committed to host the conference and exhibition in the ground-breaking Air Quality Strategy for the tidal Thames, launched in May 2018 (https://www.pla.co.uk/assets/airquality2018.pdf). The event was run during London International Shipping Week (9 to 13 September 2019), which highlights London’s key role on the international maritime stage and the strength and breadth of the UK’s maritime offering.


Alistair Gale

Port of London Authority

Mob: 07711-440736

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