Entering a new era for electrical vessel on inland waterways


  • Jean Michel Chatelier BUREAU VERITAS – Marine & Offshore Division. Antwerpen, Belgium




battery, fuel-cell, hybrid, safety, operations


The shipping industry is moving towards quickly decarbonizing its assets. There is also a growing demand for new urban transportation (passengers, building materials, and equipment) with zero-emission propulsion. Zero-emission propulsion is available today for sustainable transport. The common size of inland navigation vessels offers the opportunity to implement innovative technologies earlier than seagoing ships. There is clearly a wide range of solutions available, with their own set of pros and cons. Batteries and fuel cells are part of a growing list of solutions to carbon-neutral or zero-emissions shipping. They become a strong choice and can be successfully combined with alternative fuels. As a result, electric and hybrid vessels are currently among the most important developments in the inland navigation sector. Bureau Veritas, as one of the major classification societies, proposes a brief review of state-of-the-art electrical solutions, considering available technologies, safety constraints and operational challenges, bringing to light its experience in electrical vessels, both in new constructions and conversions as well as in vessels in service. Although many parameters must be considered, the conclusion confirms that there are electrical solutions already suitable for a range of vessels and it is also possible to pencil the near future in association with new infrastructure and supply chain.


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Bureau Veritas Rules and Guidelines (available at: https://marine-offshore.bureauveritas.com/rule-notes-and-guidance-notes):

- Rules for the classification of inland navigation vessels, NR217, Jun 2021.

- Rules for the classification of steel ships, NR467, Jan 2023.

- Certification scheme of materials and equipment for the classification of marine units, NR320, Jul 2022.

- Gas-fuelled ships, NR529, Jul 2022. - Ships using Fuel Cells, NR547, Jan 2022

- High-voltage shore connection system, NR557, Jan 2010.

- Methanol & ethanol fuelled ships, NR670, Aug 2022.

- Ammonia-fuelled ships, NR671, Jul 2022

- Requirements for survey of materials and equipment for the classification of inland waters-operated vessels / units, NR544, Nov 2021.

- VNF, Voies navigables de France, Direction du Développement, 62408 Béthune, France : "Les cahiers techniques de BATELIA" (Bureau d'Assistance Technique et Logistique pour les Industriels et Artisans), including:

CAHIER TECHNIQUE N°1, Propulsion hybride pour bateaux fluviaux » - Édition avril 2018.

CAHIER TECHNIQUE N°2, Propulsion hydrogène pour bateaux fluviaux » - Édition janvier 2020.

- "Hydrogen Insights - A perspective on hydrogen investment, market development and cost competitiveness" - Hydrogen Council, McKinsey & Company - February 2021.

- "What role does hydrogen have in the future of electric mobility?", Prof. Werner Antweiler, Ph.D., University of British Columbia - Sep.28, 2020.

- Electric & hybrid marine technology international at: https://www.electrichybridmarinetechnology.com/

- "Creating a rule framework for the green revolution in shipping industry" Internal & territorial waters, Ship Science & Technology, vol.15, nr.19 (page 71) - July 2021 - Jean Michel Y. Chatelier. https://doi.org/10.25043/19098642.222

- "Shaping a better maritime world", Matthieu de Tugny, President Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore - 2022.

- "Alternative fuels outlook for shipping", White paper, Bureau Veritas - Sept. 2022.

- "Inland waterways fast-track green transport", Bureau Veritas magazine - Oct.11, 2022.

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- "What well-to-wake decarbonization means for shipowners", Bureau Veritas.

- "Power in port", Bureau Veritas magazine - April 1, 2022.

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How to Cite

Chatelier, J. M. (2023). Entering a new era for electrical vessel on inland waterways. Ciencia Y tecnología De Buques, 16(32), 21–32. https://doi.org/10.25043/19098642.230



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