The opportunity for the future
It's good to see the focus on sustainability and the energy transition in this edition of the Maritime Holland magazine. Not because you, as a reader, need to be reminded about the importance of this theme. I think everybody is well aware that, since the 1980s, the ecological footprint of the human race has been exceeding the capacity of our planet while the global population is rushing to 9.8 billion in 2050. Selecting this theme puts the spotlight on the opportunities that sustainability brings. It shows that there are already plenty of inspiring maritime examples.
With Dutch climate-policy negotiations in full swing, the Hoekman shipyard on Urk and the Padmos shipyard in Stellendam, to name just two, are working flat out on orders from home and abroad for their hybrid MDV fishing cutters. Another example that shows what we are already capable of: the post-treatment unit from maritime exhaust specialist Discom, that brings the engines of the Vera Pax barge in line with Stage V emission standards. And a dredging and contracting company from Zwolle, Van der Kamp, has built the Ecodelta, the first LNG-powered trailing suction hopper dredger in the Netherlands.
As a result, Van der Kamp was the hands-down winner of the tender from the Port of Rotterdam Authority for maintenance dredging in the western port area of Rotterdam. Another example is the De Boer dredging company from Sliedrecht. They won the five-year dredging maintenance contract for the port of Delfzijl by converting their injection vessel Airset to comply with the Euro 6 standard. That standard requires a fivefold reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions by comparison with the IMO Tier 3 requirement in the tender.
Increasingly, levels of sustainability represent an international competitive edge. This is primarily still an idealistic consideration, with people thinking in terms of reputation and license-to-operate. But in the future, it will be a straightforward question of hard cash. Ultimately, renewable energy sources will be cheaper than fossil fuels, especially if pricing will be implemented for emissions of harmful substances.
As so often in the past, the maritime cluster in the Netherlands is also leading the way in this development. In the long term, this will give us an international competitive edge that will boost employment and prosperity in our country. However, our ability to lean forward in this development depends on the support of our national government. They need to act as a launching customer for sustainability and to facilitate and provide access to appealing ways of collaborating financially. Once again, you have to give before you can get. And above all, sustainability will only work if it is tackled globally and it will only strengthen our competitive position if there is a level playing field, at least within Europe.
So I am calling on the government - and the maritime cluster - to play its part, to provide the right incentives, financial and otherwise, and to safeguard a level playing field. Otherwise, all our efforts will actually undermine our competitive position, pricing us out of the market in no time and transforming all these wonderful sustainability initiatives into minor drops in the ocean. And there is nothing sustainable about that.
Chairman Nederland Maritiem Land (Maritime by Holland)