Waterborne charging solutions for cargo vessels Sustainability


Amsterdam is famous for its canals and waterways. For centuries, this dense network has played an important role in trade and the transportation of goods. Both the City of Amsterdam and Amsterdam’s businesses are rediscovering the potential of these waterways for the transport of goods, and the City now aims to regulate and support initiatives for transporting commercial cargo over the canals and water network. Examples where this could be applied are construction logistics, waste collection, catering and retail. Shifting commercial cargo traffic to the waterways will reduce pressure on the city’s limited public space, roads and the embattled historic quays of the city centre.


This initiative has sustainability at its heart. The City requires all water transportation to be silent and emission-free by 2025, while being fully aware of the fact that these requirements are demanding based on the current state of battery technology. Battery-powered water transportation requires a difficult optimisation process to achieve balance between cargo capacity and battery storage. However, a new, innovative mobile charging infrastructure could meet and alleviate this problem. Mobile stations offering fast charging and large capacities would greatly enhance the technological and financial feasibility of both implementing water transportation of commercial cargo and achieving the City’s ambitious goal for 2025.


The City of Amsterdam sees the transition towards sustainable transport on water as a joint effort and intends to contribute to this challenge by firstly supporting the development of mobile and floating charging facilities and secondly helping to promote the concept to other commercial parties offering transportation services by water in the Amsterdam Area. Examples could include courier services or activities on water that demand large amounts of power for short periods, such as construction or even large-scale events.


The assignment for startups

Develop a waterborne charging solution for commercial electric cargo vessels. The solution must be client-friendly, financially viable and be realised by the end of 2021.



The solution needs to:

  • be flexible, waterborne and mobile;
  • meet the relevant nautical requirements and take into account the limited size of Amsterdam’s main canals (maximum dimensions: 20-metre length/4.2-metre width). The smaller the better;
  • fulfil the safety requirements for use in the busy canals and waterways in the vicinity of residential areas;
  • be emission-free and use silent propulsion in line with the 2025 goal;
  • show a viable business model at a realistic scale and with potential for the foreseeable future;
  • provide ease of use for users and be adaptive to the new and developing market;
  • be developed in conjunction with the boatbuilding/retrofitting industry as well as potential transportation end users (the City of Amsterdam can support this);
  • have the potential to scale to all forms of electric water transport.


Issued by

Programma Varen (Boating programme)

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