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Towards the energy efficient and emission free vessel


Specific challenge: The challenge is to support developments that make new and existing vessels used in maritime operations (including leisure) and in inland navigation significantly more efficient and less polluting through solutions addressing four ship sub-systems: engine, pollution abatement systems, propulsion, energy sources and management including the efficient operation of on-board systems.

Waterborne transport still offers an enormous potential for pollution reduction and energy efficiency gains. The reduction of pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions is far removed from the progress made in road transport, particularly in the category of older, small to medium-size vessels which make up a large proportion of intra-European waterborne transport, including inland navigation.

Since vessels have a long life expectancy, developing technologies for clean retrofit and fuel conversion solutions is a key aspect of the challenge.

Scope: In order to meet this challenge, proposals should address one or several of the following aspects:

      Optimisation of conventional ship engines, including fuel flexibility, new materials, lifetime performance and near zero emissions engines.

      Development of low-maintenance, affordable off-the-shelf retrofit solutions for emission reductions of existing engines.

      Development of Liquified Natural Gas/dual fuel powered engines for small and mid-size ships, including the specific aspects of retrofitting, fuel supply and storage, safety (on-board and on-shore) and classification, and solutions to address the risks of methane slip.

      Design and demonstration of new and improved propulsion means and vessel configurations that include the entire drive train and the propeller and hull optimisation for vessels, including applied research in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

      Use of new energy sources including renewables, alternative fuels, hybrid and electric solutions with the aim to demonstrate the feasibility of the zero or near-zero emissions vessel.

Solutions that are sufficiently close to market take-up so that ship owners will consider these concepts in their future investment plans should be demonstrated. This applies in particular to the existing fleet and retrofitting solutions which must be cost-effective and present a considerable societal return on investment.

Research and innovation efforts should enable pilot applications for new engines, new pollution abatement technologies, new propulsion trains and alternative fuels solutions to enter the market by the end of the research period.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 8 to 17 million each would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: It is expected to:

      Achieve efficiency gains and emission reductions that go significantly beyond normal technological progress and the benchmarks of the existing regulatory regimes at lowest costs.

      Achieve fuel efficiency gains of at least 15% for retrofitting per type of solution (engine or propulsion) and at least 30% per type of solution for new concepts.

      Accomplish a 25% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction of, on average, 80% in air pollution compared with Best Available Technology (BAT).

Experience acquired in this innovative field should be broadly made available to ship owners requiring improvements in the environmental performance of their vessel.

Type of action: Innovation Actions