On 30 June, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management was granted EUR 210 million from the National Growth Fund – of which EUR 110 million are conditional – for the implementation of the Maritime Master Plan. This plan aims to accelerate energy transition in the maritime sector by building forty climate-neutral demonstration ships.

‘We are very happy with this award,’ says Netherlands Maritime Technology (NMT) managing director Roel de Graaf. ‘It is unique that under the banner of umbrella organisation Nederland Maritiem Land, we came up with the Maritime Master Plan with all maritime sectors. And with great involvement from the Ministries of Infrastructure and Water Management, Economic Affairs and Defence.’

With this award, a good step can be taken in accelerating the development, construction and commissioning of reliable and competitive climate-neutral demonstration ships. ‘The goal is for the Netherlands to become the market leader for various ship types in building zero-emission ships,’ states De Graaf.

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Crucial sector

The maritime sector is crucial for the prosperity, safety and energy needs of the Netherlands and includes ports, shipping, shipbuilding, fishing and hydraulic engineering. As such, it has a total added value of EUR 56.5 billion. But it is also fundamental to infrastructure for transport, renewable energy production, (national) coastal protection and maritime safety.

The maritime sector has a common denominator: ships. These are responsible for some three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2. The Maritime Master Plan aims to drastically reduce those emissions.

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Development and construction of demonstration ships

The plan envisages the development, construction and commissioning of about forty climate-neutral demonstration ships that will run on the alternative fuels hydrogen and methanol or on LNG with carbon capture. The ships will be put into use in coastal and inland navigation, wetland construction, offshore wind and deployed for maritime safety.

De Graaf: ‘This is a great opportunity to show what we have to offer as a Dutch maritime manufacturing industry. Companies can now set up demonstration projects together with shipowners. From 2024, actual construction can then take place. Moreover, companies can cooperate in setting up the Joint Maritime Digital Platform (JMDP), aimed at digital transformation and strengthening chain cooperation in the sector.’

When the Maritime Master Plan is implemented, the potential and labour productivity of the maritime workforce will additionally be increased thanks to the Human Capital Programme. With the allocation from the Growth Fund, the entire Maritime Master Plan cannot be implemented. Alternative funding must be sought for the energy efficiency programme line.

National Growth Fund

The National Growth Fund is an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Ministry of Finance. Collectively, these Ministries manage the fund on behalf of the government. An independent advisory committee assesses the projects and issue recommendations to the government about the project grants.

With the National Growth Fund the Dutch government will earmark EUR 20 billion for the period 2021-2025 for project investments in two fields which have the highest potential for structural and durable economic growth: knowledge development and research, development and innovation.

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