HGK Shipping welcomes German government’s HVO100 approval

Duisburg. HGK Shipping is supporting the German government’s decision to approve the alternative fuel, HVO100.

According to HGK Shipping, it is more climate-friendly, but is currently still more expensive. At the same time, Europe’s largest inland waterway shipping company believes that this provides an opportunity to press ahead with decarbonising this mode of transport in the medium term.

European inland waterway shipping companies face high investment costs for new drive systems for vessels, added HGK Shipping. The biodiesel, HVO, is therefore coming at the right time. The sector with its approximately 13,000 vessels is not large enough for the manufacturers to be able to initiate or call for appropriate developments in this field.

The relatively advanced age of the fleets also rules out switching the engines, which are powered by fossil fuels, to alternative drive concepts, for example using ammonia, methanol and hydrogen, in a cost-effective way in the short term. The necessary infrastructure is also missing in these fields.

HGK Shipping believes that fuelling vessels with HVO can therefore represent a sensible interim solution for inland waterway shipping. However, the company is calling for subsidies for the increased costs of the fuel until market mechanisms have regulated the price for HVO100 to match the level of traditional diesel. By fully using this biogenic fuel and achieving the associated reductions in CO2 emissions, soot particles and nitrogen oxides, this mode of transport could be almost climate-neutral by 2030, according to the market leader’s prediction.

Steffen Bauer, CEO of HGK Shipping, said: “The go-ahead provided by the government in Berlin for its use is an important incentive for mobility in Germany – and this also applies to inland waterway shipping, which is very climate-friendly anyway. That’s why we’re going to use HVO100 straightaway.”

He added, “This fuel could already significantly minimise CO2 emissions in comparison with traditional fossil fuels and represent a viable transitional measure during a phase when emission-free drive technologies are still in the development stage. In light of the costly research expenditure for innovative types of engines and the economically unrealistic scenario of quickly and extensively equipping older existing fleets with new ship engines, resource-efficient transport logistics will already become a reality now thanks to HVO100.”

Due to their long service life, inland waterway vessels, unlike most of their ocean-going counterparts, will still be in service when further legal requirements to reduce CO2 emissions come into force, added HGK Shipping.

Bauer continued: “We’re asking politicians to consider introducing a sector solution and creating the relevant incentives for this biogenic fuel to be used across the board within inland waterway shipping. Short-term tax relief, which would be necessary for as long as it takes for the price of HVO to match the costs of diesel fuel, would significantly promote the use of this interim solution.

“Alongside this, subsidies for research and development work in the field of fuel cell technology should be made available on a long-term and targeted basis. This would create the conditions for modernising fleets, which are already 55 years old on average, from a sustainability points of view too.

“Inland waterway shipping could then grow with planning certainty and be assured of a good future; it could support this important mode of transport to be able to significantly reduce its CO2 emissions during the next few years to benefit the planned energy revolution.”