Worlds most sustainable shipyard

Damen’s ambition is to become the world’s most sustainable shipbuilder. Geert kicks off: “We try to embed this ambition in our organisation, but certainly also in the design of our ships. For instance, we have made several ship types suitable for hybrid or fully electric propulsion. Good examples are the five electric city ferries we delivered to Copenhagen and the ‘Sparky’, the world’s first fully electric harbour tug. The latter has been successfully deployed in Auckland, New Zealand since 2022. She recently won a place on TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions List.”

Damen is also working with PON Power to jointly develop pilot engines for tugs that operate on (green) methanol. “In order to minimise emissions of harmful substances,” Geert continues. “Our customers increasingly want to reduce their ecological footprint.”

“This facility helps us serve our customers better as we now have a fleet of sustainable workboats available. These include hybrid ‘crew transfer vessels’ that transport personnel to offshore wind sites. This way, we create predictability and certainty in our offering and can sell our green products to our customers in a better way”, says Geert de Jong, Commercial Director at Damen Financial Services (DFS).

Pre-financing green working vessels

The latter is where Invest International comes in. Geert adds: “In the market, we notice there is a demand for new, green vessels. We are at the forefront of green technology and building hybrid and fully electric workboats. The technology to make ships sustainable still requires additional investments compared to conventional ships. Moreover, by doing so, we anticipate working with other types of customers and investors who cannot finance a vessel until delivery. This explains our need for pre-financing. Especially for the pre-financing of sustainable working vessels. We have agreed a working capital facility of 60 million euros with Invest International, with insurance cover from Atradius Dutch State Business.”

Sustainable Development Goals

By building more sustainable vessels, Damen aims, among other things, to make its own contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. “These are part of our sustainability strategy that we invest in and work on daily within Damen,” says Geert. “From creating jobs and achieving knowledge transfer in more than 20 countries where we operate, to reducing emissions on ships by developing test engines that run on (green) methanol. I am convinced that there is a role for the European manufacturing industry in these areas; and for us specifically in the maritime sector.”

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Impact realised through the working capital facility

• SDG 8 – Decent work & economic growth
Create additional jobs and realise knowledge transfer in Vietnam and Turkey where Damen builds workboats.

• SDG 13 – Climate Action
Better marketing of, for example, hybrid or fully electric workboats that lead to reductions in emissions such as CO2, NOx and particulate matter. Moreover, these vessels can be used for offshore wind applications, ports and/or urban areas.

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The green transition starts here

Damen is very satisfied with its cooperation with Invest International. Geert says: “Besides the working capital facility, we also work together on other projects. And it’s always with a shared mentality of: ‘roll up your sleeves’ to make a green transition. I believe that, in addition to commercial banks, Dutch businesses need Invest International as a financier. Not only when doing business in distant, emerging markets, but just as much directly across the border in Belgium, for example. Making shipping more sustainable starts here, in Europe, in many cases. From there we can move on to other regions. As far as I am concerned, Invest International is the go-to organisation where these forces are combined to take the next step towards sustainability.”

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Good fit Invest International & Damen

Bart De Smet is Investment Manager and the Lead for Green Hydrogen Developments at Invest International. He has been involved in making this working capital facility available and explains why the collaboration is such a good fit: “Damen is a leading Dutch company. We are happy to contribute to Damen’s ambition to make its product range and production more sustainable. In addition, it also fits with the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) ambition to decarbonise maritime transport by 2035.”

Part of Invest International’s mission is to create impact in emerging markets. Bart adds: “The ships financed with the facility will be built in Vietnam and Turkey. This will strengthen economic activities in those countries.”

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