Facilitating the modal shift away from road transport towards more energy efficient means of transportation is one of the central issues the EU faces in creating a more climate friendly future. Regarding the transport of bioenergy products, the ERDF co-funded project ENERGY BARGE delivered important contributions to facilitate the modal shift towards inland waterway transport. During the past 30 months, the main achievements included the creation of the Modal Shift Platform, the realisation of a series of B2B networking events and the implementation of five pre-feasibility studies for future investments in Danube ports, as well as two pilot investments in the Port of Vienna and MAHART Freeport of Budapest. With this successful track record, the project now comes to an end.
The Danube is more than a river: it is a lifeline, transport axis, economic and innovation area and link between cultures.
Over the past 2.5 years, FNR successfully coordinated the ENERGY BARGE project. ENERGY BARGE was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and comprised of fourteen partners from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. During this time, the project consortium concentrated on opportunities and limits to foster the utilisation of bioenergy in the Danube region. A specific focus was laid on cross-sectoral interfaces between port sites, inland waterway transport and stakeholders from the bioenergy sector to jointly increase the share of environmentally friendly biomass transports on the Danube.
The project consortium developed a set of tools that inform private and public actors along the supply chains and across country borders, give them practical guidance for business development and bring them together. Eventually, the entire Danube region shall profit from the more widespread and sustainable utilisation of its transnational, yet domestic biomass.
During the latest project period, the ENERGY BARGE Modal Shift Platform for green bioenergy logistics (www.energy-barge.eu) was set up. The platform provides information on national and transnational biomass and bioenergy markets in the Danube region, incl. biomass import and export flows. Furthermore, it provides practical guidance on the transport, handling and storage of biomass and informs how Danube ports can become biomass and bioenergy hubs. The platform enables the user to find new partners along bioenergy value and supply chains and to discover suitable logistics service providers such as shipping companies, forwarding companies as well as port and terminal operators. The Modal Shift Platform will be accessible online for at least three years after the official project’s end.
Several workshops and business-to-business (B2B) meetings for the use of synergies between the biomass/bioenergy sector and the Danube logistics sector were an essential element of the project. Matchmaking sessions were part of the events, which offered a favourable framework for strengthening the Danube as a logistics axis for biobased cargo. Positive feedback on the B2B events was received. In total, more than 400 participants were brought together during 15 workshops and B2B meetings that were organised in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. This number confirms the need for neutral cooperation platforms in the field of Danube logistics to initiate new inland waterway transports and to promote a modal shift towards the Danube waterway. Thus, the project partners will foster B2B meetings independently also beyond the project’s lifetime and extend this proven concept to other cargo groups together with international partners.
Five Danube ports (MAHART-Freeport Budapest, Port of Straubing-Sand, Port of Vienna, Port of Vukovar, Slovak Shipping and Ports JSC) were part of the project consortium. In the frame of the ENERGY BARGE project, the ports elaborated feasibility studies to become biomass hubs as part of a transnational network along the Danube. Each port defined specific investment projects taking into consideration market, technology and financial aspects. The MAHART-Freeport and the Port of Vienna invested into small-scale pilots to demonstrate the effectiveness of biomass handling equipment. All pilot actions serve as best practice examples for other port locations in order to transfer them into hubs for processing, handling and storage of biomass for energy production in the Danube region.
The project ended on 30 June 2019. However, information on the ENERGY BARGE project and its results can be found on the website for at least three years beyond the project’s lifetime: www.interreg-danube.eu/energy-barge.
Duration of the project: 01/2017 – 06/2019
Project co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF).