PROMINENT: how viadonau is contributing to promoting innovation in the inland waterways transport sector

The EU Project PROMINENT - Promoting Innovation in the Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) Sector - which was launched in May 2015, is a multiannual research and implementation programme for inland shipping. 17 parties from five European countries are collaborating to green the inland shipping industry. Running until April 2018, PROMINENT inscribes itself in the objectives of the Action Programme Danube of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology. The project foresees the forward-looking approach bringing together the economy, the environment and safety for inland navigation with a clear focus on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and increased environmental friendliness of navigation as well as an increase of competitiveness of inland navigation in logistics networks.

A project funded from the Horizon 2020 programme, PROMINENT has been addressing the key needs for technological development, as well as the barriers to innovation and greening in the European inland navigation sector. PROMINENT thereby is fully in line with the objectives of the European action programme NAIADES-II and ultimately aiming at providing solutions which make inland navigation an ever more competitive alternative to road transport in terms of air pollutant emissions by 2020 and beyond. In parallel, PROMINENT aims at further decreasing the energy consumption and carbon footprint of inland waterway transport an area where we already have a strong advantage compared to road transport.

PROMINENT will focus on:

  • Massive transition towards efficient and clean vessels
  • Certification and monitoring of emission performance and development of innovative regimes
  • Harmonisation and modernisation of professional qualifications and the stimulation of the further integration of IWT into sustainable transport chains.

What's different with PROMINENT?
The PROMINENT partners have found broad support among political and commercial decision-makers in the field of inland navigation. Through its direct access to relevant industrial stakeholders and Member States, the consortium has obtained significant backup needed to perform the work.

In PROMINENT, the involvement of stakeholders plays a key role. Consultation with the project Advisory Board, presentation of project results in expert groups, as well as interviews with representatives of the shipping industry - users and shippers - will verify the results. Fleet families, operational profiles, the selection of the greening technologies and concepts, as well as the assessment of technology-specific barriers and facilitating factors, all these will be assessed by the stakeholders.

Role of viadonau
The viadonau-led work package, State-of-Play, under internationally renowned expert Juha Schweighofer was actually concluded during the first quarter of the project lifetime. Here, the exceptional team work of all beneficiaries involved allowed for provision of knowledge and giving direction for the work in PROMINENT by analyzing promising greening technologies and concepts and match-making them with the characteristics of the European inland fleet in order to identify the concepts that carry the biggest greening impact potential.

More in detail, the objectives of this important work package were the following:

  • identify typical fleet families and operational profiles on European inland waterways and canals
  • identify and assess available greening technologies and concepts
    select the best available greening technologies and concepts concerning their effects, impact and availability
  • prepare knowledge on barriers and facilitating factors to uptake of these best available technologies as basis for developing counter-measures by public and private stakeholders
  • analyse barriers for innovation uptake

Through the actions of this important work package, groups of comparable vessels - known as fleet families - and their operational profiles were identified and their cost structures analysed. As a next step, the best greening technologies and concepts to raise energy efficiency and lower emissions were assessed regarding their effects, range of impact and their availability for the most relevant European fleet families. This assessment allowed conclusions on the best available technologies in the short term and their selection for further elaboration within PROMINENT. Although many of the identified technologies are expected to have strong advantageous greening effects, they are not automatically taken up by market players. An investigation is underway to help identify the reasons behind this skepticism. Once the cues are collected, active measures will be set to overcome them.

More information on PROMINENT can be found here.
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