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Ports in fresh push to move shipping to new fuels

Port of Gothenburg pushes shipping to decarbonise

Ports are increasingly playing an influential role as they encourage and push shipping to decarbonise.

Ports and terminals across Europe are embarking on various ways to reduce the maritime sector’s use of fossil fuels. As with other branches of the global economy, the maritime sector is facing increased regulatory pressure to reduce its use of hydrocarbon-based fossil fuels. For example, the Swedish Parliament has mandated that by 2030 the country’s transport sector must reduce its levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a new figure 70% lower than was the case in 2010. But it’s not just legal demands that the sector is facing, with APM Terminals Gothenburg noting that customers too are increasingly calling for the use of cleaner fuels.

Thus, in line with all this, the terminal reports that it has now made significant headway in switching to renewable alternatives in a bid to make its container handling activities fossil free. Indeed, under its Green Gothenburg Gateway banner, it has now announced plans to make the transport of all customer goods through the terminal fossil free by the end of next year. Additionally, it also hopes to be able to offer customers “fully climate-neutral cargo handling through the terminal” within a similar time frame. Given the need to maintain its customers’ competitivity, it asserts that this move away from hydrocarbons “will be done at no cost to customers”. Neither will it impinge on the “speed or reliability of cargo handling” at the terminal.

Meanwhile, in terms of moving containerised cargo to and from a port, the Port of Amsterdam reports that it has now signed an agreement with Sendo Shipping to develop two new hybrid container barges that will switch from diesel power to electric on entering the Port’s waters. Not only will these new vessels boast “much lower emissions [and] much lower fuel consumption” than existing Sendo Liners, but they will also feature 8% more cargo space. Currently under construction in Werkendam, they will operate a regular service between Amsterdam and the Port of Rotterdam when they enter service at the start of next year.

Describing the agreement with Sendo as making “an active contribution to a more environmentally friendly future for shipping”, the Port asserts that “facilitating the arrival of hybrid vessels is a concrete step in this direction”. Indeed, the vessels’ engines incorporate a modular design that means the diesel drive can be quickly and easily replaced by a fully electric or hydrogen-based drive if required. However, even operating as diesel hybrids, these two vessels, the Port reveals, are expected to reduce per-container fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by some 32% and 40%, respectively.

Across the border in Belgium, where by 2050 the authorities are looking to cut the country’s CO2 emissions by 80% compared to 2005 levels, the Port of Antwerp and the Port of Zeebrugge have both now entered into a partnership with Deme, Engie, Exmar, Fluxys and WaterstofNet to develop a roadmap for switching the country to a hydrogen-based economy. However, achieving this goal, the Port of Zeebrugge notes, will first require “efficient and economic solutions for the import, transport and storage of hydrogen”.

Thus, the seven entities will first make a joint analysis of the entire hydrogen import and transport chain, with the aim of mapping “the financial, technical and regulatory aspects of the various components” involved, namely production; loading and unloading; and transport by sea and by pipelines. Once finished in around a year’s time, the roadmap is expected to have identified “the best way to transport hydrogen for the various applications in the energy and chemical sector”. In so doing, it is then hoped that it will “form the bridge towards concrete projects”.

About Author

Brian Dixon is a business and industry journalist with more than 20 years' experience writing about ports and logistics. A member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, he has covered stories on six continents. He divides his time between the UK and East Asia