Wattlab Installs Solar Panels forInland Shipping at Rotterdam Port
In the Rotterdam port, inland shipping vessels are sailing with ultra-thin but robust solar panels on the hatches. This is how the Rotterdam start-up Wattlab is making inland shipping sustainable. The inland shipping world itself also sees the advantages of the solar hatches. By processing the solar panels in the hatches, they use existing space and reduce a ship’s emissions. This also gives the captain freedom, he is free to moor where he wants and is not dependent on shore power.
On an annual basis, 1 hatch generates an average of 2900 kilowatt hours, which is equal to the consumption by an average Dutch household. A ship with a length of 110 metres has 22 hatches. So this generates a great deal of energy. Ships with an electric engine can deploy solar energy for propulsion and thus save on fuel. In addition, much energy is consumed on board. Think of cranes, pumps, the navigation, as well as the accommodation for the crew. You can also deploy the panels here instead of diesel generators. The return time for a captain is about 5 to 8 years and then you have free energy. And of course cleaner air, less maintenance costs and no noise from the generator, so silent nights again."
Improving solar energy is actually a logical step for Bo Salet, David Kester and Siebe Roef, the founders of Wattlab. In 2016, the three men got to know each other at the Nuon Solar Team of the TU Delft. Inspired by the light panels in the racing car, they decided to combine forces and apply their knowledge across the board. A year later, Wattlab was registered with the Chamber of Commerce. Very soon, the start-up was approached from many angles by people and companies with ideas for solar energy. For instance, since 2019, the delivery vans of online supermarket Picnic drive round with ultra-thin solar panels which keep the groceries cool in the summer. Via via, that year Wattlab also came into contact with the world of inland shipping.