Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we are all facing and is a top priority around the world: from the United Nations (UN), where Climate Change is Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 13, to the European Commission’s European Green Deal.
Involvement and commitment of all stakeholders is crucial in addressing the challenges of climate change. This includes Water Management Organisations (WMOs) and Inland Navigation Authorities. Climate change is already impacting on WMOs’ operations and infrastructure.
In recent years, summer droughts have reduced canal and river water supplies and winter storms have resulted in infrastructure damages that have impeded navigation and in some cases have led to waterway closures. As the EU focuses more on reducing emissions from transport and less on the infrastructure needed to increase transport, it has invested in programs to reduce harmful emissions.
In response, several waterway organisations throughout Europe have come together to try to find solutions to reduce greenhouse gases emissions generated during their pumping operations and transition to a low carbon infrastructure. The result is the project GREEN WIN. This INTERREG NWE project was approved on 29 May 2018 under the Low Carbon priority with a total budget of €2.45m. The project addresses the problem of excess energy use and high carbon emissions Waterway Management Organisations (WMO’s) cause across NWE when pumping water around the region’s rivers and canals. The project tackles this by jointly trialling technologies and more efficient ways of deploying them. Pumping water has a big carbon impact across NWE, accounting for 25-33% of annual electricity use by WMOs, and roughly 20% of total emissions.
In numbers, Green Win is aiming for a 15% reduction of CO2 emissions generated at 11 trial sites in Ireland, United Kingdom and France by 2021. This is a reduction of 195 tonnes of CO2. As an often-smaller scale purchaser and user of pumping equipment, it can be challenging for navigation authorities to fully explore the benefits of large-scale investment in emerging technologies. With a high degree of legacy equipment, often poorly selected, with little or limited automation the opportunities presented by the Green Win project is to allow investment which brings environmental and operational benefits.