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GreenTech 2021: LNG progress shows Baltic Ports working as one

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Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) bunkering is available at every Baltic port – highlighting the region’s intent to collectively reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Bogdan Oldakowski, Secretary General of the Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) and CEO of Actia Forum, told PTI that since 2011 the BPO has initiated multi-port projects aimed at developing infrastructure for LNG bunkering.

Whilst some in industry have questioned the long-term viability of LNG’s role in decarbonising shipping, the fuel – which produces lower carbon emissions than current heavy fuel oils used by ships – is in demand from shipping lines.

“In last 10 years, LNG is seen as the fuel that will play an important role for the shipping sector; and [our] ports have adopted to this change,” he said.

Bogdan Oldakowski will be speaking at Port Technology’s GreenTech for Ports & Terminals on 22 and 23 September 2021. Register now!

“If [ports] see demand on the ship side, they will provide options to bunker LNG. When it comes to other fuels, its much too early to say when use of LNG will finish.”

Oldakowski believes the maturity and business case development for alternative fuels like ammonia or methanol will “probably take another decade” for shippers, cargo-handling operations, and wider utilisation across ports and maritime .

For now, Oldakowski said, LNG could be the most viable option as shipping lines continue to add LNG vessels to their fleets.

Culture of cooperation

The BPO are “frontrunners” in working collaboratively to offer green solutions to shippers, Oldakowski said.

Notably, Oldakowski continued, ports including Tallinn and Gothenburg committing to onshore power facilities is a recent example of collective embrace to move away from fossil fuels in maritime.

“In the next two to three years, we will be increasing our onshore power supply for cruise vessels. This will be a huge investment for us,” he said.

The Baltic region is also a “special area” when it comes to environmental regulations.

Baltic Ports have their own regulations from the Helsinki Commission with stricter rules, according to Oldakowski, to develop greener solutions and technologies in ports.

Legislative drive aside, the Baltic Ports have a “culture of cooperation” between countries which provides a single guiding approach to reducing emissions, he said.

“We have only a small lake between us, and in order to make that a green small lake, we need to work together.

“[This requires] a lot of changes from port operators, shipping, road, and rail operators, and I would say we are frontrunners when it comes to decarbonisation – notably when we’re talking about shore power and our regional approach to LNG.”

Progress on renewables

The organisation recently joined Hydrogen Europe which will offer the Baltic Ports insights into alternative fuels for increasing sustainability across ports.

Hydrogen Europe, a collective of nearly 300 companies and associations working across the hydrogen value chain, will provide insights to the BPO on investment, procurement, and utilisation strategies for hydrogen fuels.

Green hydrogen, powered through renewable energy sources, is a zero-carbon option for maritime which could power vessels, port equipment, and offer a business opportunities for production and export.

The decision to join the association is the latest in the Baltic Ports’ collaborative drive to reduce the region’s carbon footprint, argued Oldakowski.

“We want to join this network and the group of experts to learn, but also to contribute and create dialogue. We have had some challenges for the shipping and port sector [in decarbonisation], and we want to learn in order to give support to our members,” Oldakowski said.

But the importance of renewable sourcing across maritime is one already echoed and exemplified in several use cases across the Baltic Sea, Oldakowski argues.

In the Swedish Port of Luleå, the steel port aims to build the world’s first mass production plant for emissions-free steel using green hydrogen powered through hydroelectric.

Further south, Oldakowski highlighted the Government of Denmark which is embarking on a project to designate the Danish island of Bornholm as a wind-powered ‘energy island’ in the middle of the Baltic Sea.

The first-of-its-kind project plans to connect Denmark and Germany with an energy grid supplying some 2,000 megawatts (MW) to Germany.

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