Launch of European LIFE project - CLean INland SHipping

On Thursday 27 October in Düsseldorf, seventeen parties - governments, businesses, and knowledge institutes - from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom formalised their commitment to work together in the European LIFE project - CLINSH, or CLean INland SHipping.

By testing innovative technologies, alternative types of fuel, and shore power, the parties are seeking to achieve big reductions in the emissions caused by inland shipping. The effects will be monitored continuously on 30 ships. The data will provide a handle for policymakers in local, regional, national, and international governments and organisations. CLINSH also identifies the business cases of the various measures for shipping companies in order to encourage the fleet to become more sustainable.

90 people attended the launch meeting. The conference was opened by President-director Thomas Delschen of LANUV Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rik Janssen, a member of the Provincial Executive of the province of South Holland. Other speakers were Mr Guido de Wilt from the European Commission, and Mr Hans van de Werf, the secretary-general of the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine. The Province of South Holland and the Port of Antwerp gave presentations on CLINSH and the demonstration project, respectively.

It is hard to imagine a more fitting location for the kick-off meeting for CLINSH than Düsseldorf, said host Thomas Delschen of the Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz (LANUV): “In 1960, we set ourselves the target of turning the air above the Ruhr blue again. Many people regarded that as impossible in North Rhine-Westphalia, which at the time was referred to as the ‘land of coal and steel’. However, through a combination of monitoring, strict regulation, and technical innovations, we have succeeded!”

Tougher environmental requirements

The inland shipping industry is currently facing a similar challenge in terms of sustainability. That means that the sector has to invest in cleaner ships. This is because the international requirements relating to energy-saving and cleaner air are becoming stricter. Customers, too, are increasingly setting good environmental performance as a precondition for the purchase of services.

“The CLINSH project is there to support the inland shipping sector. The sector is a reliable partner when it comes to transporting large volumes and specific products. To stay competitive in the future, the sector must invest in cleaner ships now,” said member of the provincial executive, Rik Janssen.


During the meeting in Düsseldorf, several of those present emphasised the importance of collaboration - not just between the parties in CLINSH, but also with the road and rail sectors, for example, and with the various governments and their agencies. At the starting phase in particular of the changes that the inland shipping sector is experiencing, leaders are needed, as are parties with the courage to invest. To be successful, the CLINSH partners must build connections with administrators, policymakers, and providers of finance. The collaboration between ports, governments, knowledge institutes, and businesses in the four countries was described at the meeting as unique.

Environmental benefits

The European inland shipping sector has almost fifteen thousand vessels. CLINSH has set itself the objective target of limiting emissions and of reducing the concentrations of nitrogen oxides and particulates caused by inland shipping. It is expected that a quarter of inland shipping vessels will have been adapted to limit emissions by 2025. By 2050, it should be half of all vessels. This will yield a saving of 141 kilotons of nitrogen oxides between 2020 and 2030. In monetary terms, the gain to the environment will be 1.6 billion euros - achieved through lower fuel consumption and better air quality, for example.

As well as the lead partner, the Province of Zuid-Holland, the CLINSG consortium consists of:

  • Marine South East, Newcastle University, CE Delft, ECN, DCMR, EICB, Energy Valley, Nijmegen City Council, Royal Dutch Shell, Port of Antwerp, Port of Gent, Flemish government department of Mobility and Public Works, Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht, Nordrhein Westfalen LANUV, Nordrhein Westfalen Energy Agentur, University of Bremen