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KD – a sustainability pioneer

If the waves slapping against the hull are the loudest sounds reaching the riverside promenade from the boats moored at the quay wall, that’s a huge plus for the environment. The diesel generators can be switched off where boats can be supplied with electricity from on land when moored for longer periods of time. This is important, for example, to keep the refrigerators, freezers and lighting and air-conditioning systems running. The silence of the diesel engines means that air pollutants such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and harmful carbon dioxide emissions are reduced, as well as noise pollution. Köln-Düsseldorfer Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt is a pioneer when it comes to the supply of shore power in the Rhineland and is making an important contribution to preventing air pollution in the cities.

Investment in the future

For Dr Achim Schloemer, Chairman of the KD Board, this is a sustainable investment in the future that will also improve people’s quality of life. “The consistent development of a sustainable, climate-friendly and environmentally friendly electricity infrastructure along the rivers is an essential building block on the path towards achieving the environmental protection goals. As the market leader in passenger shipping on the Rhine, we are using our expertise and have set ourselves the goal of opening up all piers of KD and other partners for shore power.” KD can rely on strong partners when it comes to the expansion of eco-friendly shore power systems. Just recently, for example, in cooperation with RheinWerke (a subsidiary of Stadtwerke Düsseldorf and RheinEnergie Köln) and Netzgesellschaft Düsseldorf (a subsidiary of Stadtwerke Düsseldorf), four electrified floating jetties operated by KD were put into operation in Düsseldorf for river cruise boats for day excursions or overnight cruises. Three of these floating jetties are located on the Robert-Lehr bank near the Theodor-Heuss bridge and another on the Schlossufer bank close to Burgplatz.

“KD can rely on strong partners when it comes to the expansion of eco-friendly shore power systems.“

Support from the federal government and the state

In Cologne, there are several landing stages with shore power, including in the old town, in Deutz and in Niehl port. Köln-Düsseldorfer and RheinEnergie Köln signed a contract for the supply of shore power to boats back in early 2018. This 15-year contract has an annual volume of over six million kilowatt hours. The state and the German federal government are providing some 20 million euros (of which around nine million is from the state) for the construction of shore power facilities in North Rhine-Westphalia. North Rhine-Westphalia Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Professor Dr Andreas Pinkwart, welcomes inland navigation becoming more environmentally friendly and emphasises the importance of the Rhine as a river cruise destination for tourists. The minister believes that making shipping greener offers added value for everyone. “Better air along our rivers and canals improves the quality of life for citizens.”

Patrick Höving, Technical Inspector at KD Europe, explains Köln-Düsseldorfer’s commitment to the supply of shore power in an interview with “RheinZeit”

Mr Höving, four KD floating jetties have recently been electrified in Düsseldorf. How complex is the conversion of such a floating jetty?
It is very complex. It starts with the infrastructure at the floating jetty. In many cases there is no high power connection close to the Rhine yet. Since the boats consume a lot of electricity, a correspondingly large cable has to be laid for quite a few metres under the ground all the way to the floating jetty. To compensate for the changing water levels of the Rhine, the charging stations are installed directly on the floating jetty. The connection to the boat is very precisely controlled, monitored and operated via special cables, plugs and software to make sure that the boats can be charged safely and reliably.

The infrastructure on land is one aspect, the conversion of the boat is the other. How complicated is that, for example on MS RheinFantasie, which was converted in June 2021?
You have to imagine it like this: on RheinFantasie, ceilings and walls had to be opened up from the entrance at the front to the engine room at the rear of the boat to lay the power cables. In the engine room, where the switchboard for supplying the boat with power is located, an additional control system had to be installed to enable switching between the power unit and the onshore connection. This is complicated. To prevent a power failure on board, the power unit must be switched off with pinpoint precision and the shore power switched on immediately.

How long did it take and how expensive was the conversion?
The conversion of the boat took around a month and cost about 40,000 euros in external and own costs.

Who benefits from the use of shore power?
Besides the environment, local residents and the crew, the river boat passengers also benefit. Because the diesel generators can be switched off, there are no more vibrations and noises from the boat’s engine.

What is the situation at Niehl port in Cologne?
As luck would have it, KD started providing a shore power connection for every berth in Niehl port a few years ago. When the boats were not allowed to sail because of the coronavirus restrictions, there were sometimes as many as 38 boats hooked up to shore power for more than one and a half years.

What sets KD apart as a pioneer in sustainability?
All employees, from the management to the staff on board, are aware of the gravity of this issue, making it all the easier to initiate and implement new projects easily and rapidly. Furthermore, in the field of technology, KD has been working with service companies that are very focused on innovation for years.

In July 2021, MS RheinFantasie received the “Green Award” certification in silver. What requirements had to be met for this?
Using a check sheet, the boat and the company have to prove how mindful they are of environmental awareness, sustainability, safety and cleanliness and how well they implement these. This is checked and assessed by a “Green Award” inspection on board. This includes what safety drills there are on board and how often they are carried out, how waste separation is organised and, of course, whether a shore power connection is available.

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