Following the EUSDR PA 1a working group “Fleet Modernisation”, the first know-how transfer event in the framework of the GRENDEL project was held on 7 and 8 March in Vienna.
Modernising the Danube fleet is one of the main objectives of the GRENDEL project. Therefore, the aim of this event, organised in cooperation with the INDanube Innovation Transfer Centre, was to bring together vessel operators from the Danube region with innovation experts and suppliers. Increasing the knowledge among Danube IWT stakeholders about greening technologies that meet the strict requirements of the Non-Road Mobile Machinery Regulation is a major precondition in the successful modernisation process of the Danube fleet. Furthermore, transferring knowledge to vessel operators is a vital prerequisite for decisions directly linked to financing the modernisation of a fleet that urgently needs comprehensive investments in order to be able to compete with other modes of transport. In this sense, supporting the investment capacity of stakeholders in the Danube fleet, by developing innovative financial instruments at the transnational level (State Aid Scheme), is another main objective of the GRENDEL project.
The event started with keynote speeches delivered by representatives of the sector and the European Commission. In his speech, Mr. Manfred Seitz (PDI) noted that GRENDEL is the third project after DANTE and DAPhNE that addresses the objectives defined in the policy initiative “Green Deal for Danube River Transport” launched by Pro Danube International. Green Deal is a cooperative policy instrument which provides a coordinated framework for joint public and private actions to improve the efficiency and eco-performance of Danube IWT. Both Mr. Hugues van Honacker (European Commission) and Mr. Gernot Pauli (CCNR) agreed that it is of utmost importance to take more proactive measures to secure a smooth integration of IWT in the European transport and logistics chains. Furthermore, the European Commission welcomes and supports initiatives like GRENDEL.
The manifold topics of the agenda contained examples of good practices (inland vessel modernisation projects and initiatives), European legal requirements for emission reduction and future-oriented innovative technological solutions for the inland waterway transport sector (batteries, new diesel fuels, hybrid/diesel-electric and gas/gas-electric propulsion systems, after-treatment solutions etc.).
In the era of digitalisation where low to zero emissions play a significant role on the European policy agenda, the transnational modernisation of the Danube fleet is no longer an option, but a must.
It was furthermore concluded that the Governments of the Danube region should proactively support the greening of the fleet. By looking at the current regulatory framework, it became clear that concrete incentives are, with rather few exceptions, missing. The IWT sector should be directly involved in the complex decision making process at both European and national levels. Moreover, the NAIADES III action programme should receive adequate and dedicated funds to improve the overall situation of IWT in Europe.
The presentations from 7 March are available for download here.
The presentations from 8 March are available for download here.