Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: The maritime and inland waterways sectors have different dynamics as regards policy developments and policy-making cycles. The Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) sector cannot benefit from the same economies of scale as the maritime sector, also because it is largely dominated by SMEs. The global dimension is practically absent; the sector has a stronger regional focus, is more driven by EU legislation and is more integrated into the internal market. Moreover, IWT is affected by climate change effects in terms of water levels.

New priorities for inland navigation policy have emerged, including those coming from the NAIADES II action programme, which require RDI support as a key building block for exploiting synergies and bringing about an integrated, comprehensive, and sustainable waterborne transport system. This will improve the competitive position of IWT and give it a better environmental performance.

Scope: In order to drive an innovation agenda for the sector (covering vessels,  infrastructure, and modal links and integration), proposals should address the following three issues together:

·      Support a massive introduction of a range of alternative energy concepts and technologies for a more efficient energy use and for emission reductions in IWT. New technological solutions are to be developed and deployed (also as retrofitting solutions), which aim at achieving emission levels in IWT that reflect the state of the art and are at least similar to those of road transport. Research and innovation efforts should focus on new concepts that are tested through real-life pilot deployments which are accompanied by a thorough assessment of operational and environmental performance, including cost-efficiency. The certification of solutions should be addressed in order to stimulate widespread take-up. Experience acquired in this innovative field must be made available to ship owners wishing to green their vessels.

·      Establishment of a testing and monitoring regime for the application of strict emission limits to various categories of existing vessels/engines, including certification, implementation and type approval of retrofit solutions, appropriate test cycles and procedures for compliance monitoring.

·      Develop digital, including simulator-based, tools for education/training and cost-efficient navigation following inter alia, the assessment of manning and training/qualification requirements with regard to vessel operation and cargo handling (including modal links).

As inland navigation in Europe also affects non-EU and non-EEA countries, international co-operation aspects in research and deployment of results should be addressed. Inputs to standardisation efforts should be made in terms of technical requirements for navigation and qualifications.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 to 6 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: Major progress will be made regarding the environmental performance and the energy efficiency of the IWT sector, improving its competitiveness as part of the Single European Transport Area.

New qualifications should allow for a more mobile and up-skilled work force.

Type of action: Research and Innovation Actions

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