The world’s first all-electric container barges dubbed the ‘Tesla ships’ are launching this autumn

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by Jessica Tabinor on


  • The world’s first fully electric and emission-free container barges are to set sail this autumn.

  • They have been dubbed the ‘Tesla of the canals’ as their electric motors will be driven by 20-foot batteries.

  • It is believed that the first 6 barges alone could remove a staggering 23,000 trucks a year from the roads in the Netherlands.

The world’s first fully electric and emission-free container barges are to set sail this autumn from the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

The vessels have been specially designed to fit under bridges to enable them to transport goods around the inland waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands. With the possibility of incorporating the technology to be able to sail crewless, the vessels are expected to revolutionise the way we transport mass goods.

They have been dubbed the ‘Tesla of the canals’ as their electric motors will be driven by 20-foot batteries which have been charged on shore by the carbon-free energy provide, Eneco. Thus, if they prove successful, the barges are expected to vastly reduce the use of diesel-powdered trucks for moving freight in the future.The 6 barges are approximately 52 metres long and 6.7m wide. They are fitted with a unique power box giving them 15 hours of power. As there’s no need for a traditional engine room, the boats have up to 8% extra space, allowing them to carry more cargo.

Designed by the Dutch company, Port-Liner, the 100 million-euro project has been supported by a €7m subsidy from the European Union and can carry approximately 280 containers.

Chief executive of Port-Liner Ton van Meegen told The Loadstar:

“There are some 7,300 inland vessels across Europe and more than 5,000 of those are owned by entrepreneurs in Belgium and the Netherlands. We can build upwards of 500 a year, but at that rate it would take some 50 years to get the industry operating on green energy.”

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It is believed that the first 6 barges alone could remove a staggering 23,000 trucks a year from the roads in the Netherlands, replacing them with the zero-emission barges. Port Liner has stated it could produce around 500 barges a year, revolutionising the freight industry. However, there has been rumours that similar, all-electric motors could be retrofitted into older ships.

We will look forward to hearing about their maiden voyage in the coming months.

(Images sourced via The Loadstar)

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