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GreenTech 2021: Electrical innovation demands port-city collaboration

charging station at the port of antwerp
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The use of electrical innovation and new power solutions in ports will bring challenges that drive home the need for increased port-city communication.

Electrical power offers an “immense” number of opportunities for ports and terminals to drive down emissions, argued Dr. -Ing. José M Pagés Sánchez, International Project Manager at AIVP and responsible for AIVP’s Agenda 2030, and Bruno Delsalle, Deputy General Manager of the organisation.

AIVP, a non-profit worldwide network of ports and cities across the globe, supports its members around its 2030 Agenda, the world’s first initiative to adapt the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals to port cities.

A key tenant of the goals is sustainability in reducing carbon emissions during operations and taking a green-centric approach to future investments.

 Dr. -Ing. José M Pagés Sánchez will be speaking at Port Technology’s GreenTech for Ports & Terminals on 22 and 23 September 2021. Register now!

Emerging electric

In moving from fossil-fuel powered machinery, trucks, and vessels, AIVP’s member ports have made waves in electrical innovation.

European port members such as the Port of Rotterdam and Port of Antwerp, for example, have reaffirmed their intent to invest in shore power facilities, and collaborated with city and national authorities on electrical innovation, most recently through the €25 million ($30 million) European Union MAGPIE and PIONEERS initiative.

Innovations in the scheme including zero-emission autonomous barges, offshore charging buoys, and building power resilience.

Ports are an ideal area to trial these solutions: AIVP member the Port Authority of Leixoes will soon be trialling electric cargo-handling trucks, Sánchez said.

“Many of our members are starting to work with electric trucks for inter-terminal connections to move the cargo inside the terminal.

“This of course can contribute to the efficiency of the port in economic terms, but also in environmental terms [extending] advantages for the city and the population, diminishing pollution.”

Ports in themselves are “excellent labs to test solutions, being a controlled environment where it’s relatively easy to track the different activities… to make proper predictions of the energy demands that are going to happen, and then test different solutions,” Sánchez said.

Resiliency is needed

But this rapid growth in electrical capabilities will require major questions to be answered through port-city collaboration, noted both Sánchez and Delsalle.

There “is no sense” for ports to electrify its terminals if it does not have the capacity to develop renewable and resilient power sourcing, Delsalle argued.

Californian ports in August 2020 were directed to remove shoreside power facilities due to an intense heatwave and high demand from hospitals due to COVID-19, placing a considerable strain on the state’s power grid.

On a macro level, ports and cities will need to collaborate in building resilience: through green sourcing of electricity in solar, wind, and or hydroelectric power; smart grids; or battery storage, Sánchez said.

“An obvious element in the switch to electricity is if the energy itself is produced in a sustainable way. Everybody knows that when we look at the electric supply, we have to look at the entire supply chain of the electricity in itself,” he said.

“[Increasing news] for onshore power supply for cruises and passenger ships has connected to a broader discussion about the interaction between cruises and cities.

“[It’s not just about] the energy supply and the connection with the city, it is also connected ensuring those cities have smart grids and smart energy systems. It’s about having the right tools to have proper balance between the demand and supply,” Sánchez noted.

Supply chain disruptions from COVID-19 to the Suez Canal crisis have thrust the significance of ports and terminals into the spotlight for city and national governance, Sánchez believes – opening up considerable opportunities for port-city collaboration in meeting Agenda 2030 sustainability goals.

“In dialogue with many port authorities and port cities, this is a great opportunity to make important changes that are going to improve the functioning of ports [and] to be on the right path towards sustainability,” Sánchez said.

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