Greater sustainability in the chain
The Meet the Buyer sessions organized two years ago with sixteen of our strategic suppliers have led to concrete chain initiatives in the area of cleaner fuels. We work with our suppliers on ongoing research into the technical feasibility of using cleaner and more efficient fuels on our equipment. Boskalis makes targeted investments in this research and shares experiences with our clients to extend economic applicability.
The use of environmentally friendly fuels tends to produce particularly good results in steady-state conditions. This presents an immediate dilemma for Boskalis: most of our equipment is not involved in processes of this kind: irregular ﬂuctuations in load and substantial peak loads are inherent to our work. This makes research into the technical applicability of these fuels imperative. Where environmentally friendly fuels are more costly than fossil fuels economic feasibility also comes into play. Once client appreciation of better environmental performance translates into acceptance of these costs, environmentally friendly options become economically viable as well. That is why we are keen to share the knowledge we glean from our tests with clients. In regions where there is less client appreciation in this area we follow international legislation and regulations in addition to our own policy as set out in our ISO 14001 management program. Our research program allows us to switch to environmentally friendly fuels as soon as international legislation and regulations demand it.
A pilot project was launched with Shell GTL Fuel in 2012. For nine months GTL was used to power an excavator on the Dutch public works department’s A4 motorway project. GTL (gas-to-liquids) is a liquid fuel made by converting natural gas into synthetic diesel. The fuel drastically reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, ﬁne dust particles and black smoke by comparison with regular diesel. “This is the ultimate in chain thinking,” says Procurement & Logistics manager Joost Rijnsdorp. “Caterpillar, which supplied the excavator, provided the guarantee standards, while Pon Equipment handled their technical implementation. Boskalis made the machine available for the project. Shell supplied the fuel, and the commissioning body, the Dutch department of public works, judged it to be a great initiative.” Boskalis was mainly interested in testing technical feasibility. The pilot project showed that excavator performance matched diesel-powered machines. “We want to extend the application of GTL. In 2013 we became the ﬁrst shipping company to use this fuel in the propulsion system of a tug, the SMIT Elbe, which operates in the port of Rotterdam. The pilot project will allow us to acquire on-board experience with this clean fuel and to assess emission reductions. We expect to achieve a sizeable reduction in emissions without modifying the engines. This could help to achieve the Port of Rotterdam’s emission reduction targets.” The pilot project was launched in late 2013 and will last just under a year.
Biodiesel pilot study
The partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and SkyNRG is another initiative resulting from a Meet the Buyer session. Boskalis employees clock up a large number of ﬂight hours traveling to ofﬁces and projects in other countries. KLM is our preferred carrier and so the link to this chain initiative was swiftly made. SkyNRG wants to give a major boost to the production and availability of biofuels for the aviation industry. The challenge for SkyNRG is that the economic feasibility of the sustainable fuel, wich is sourced from 30% used cooking oil and blended with 70% conventional diesel, depends entirely on adequate sales. KLM uses only a small part of the available volume, which is why SkyNRG is looking to broaden the market so biofuels can compete with traditional fuels. Joost Rijnsdorp: “In our relationship with KLM, we could also have opted to offset our environmental impact but we prefer to engage in a structural solution. We have agreed to conduct a pilot with a number of our trucks for about a year. This will entail purchasing 250,000 liters of biofuel. This study will also concentrate mainly on the technical performance of the equipment. If the pilot proves successful, it may be rolled out on one of our ships.” SkyNRG CEO Dirk Kronemeijer explains: "Boskalis is backing our efforts to boost our track record with this sustainable diesel fuel. By expanding our know-how and establishing more critical mass, we will be better able to realize our objective and compete head-on with fossil fuels in terms of pricing.”
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