Greater collaboration among stakeholders is key to making sure investment projects designed to cut carbon emissions at major ports and terminals succeed.
In addition, authorities need to do more to bring separate initiatives together in order to meet emission cutting goals.
Speaking to PTI ahead of the Green Tech 2021 event, Tim de Knegt, Manager, Strategic Finance and Treasurer, Port of Rotterdam, said bringing different parts of port together is the biggest hurdle.
“The key challenge as a landlord is to ensure that everyone cooperates when investing,” de Knegt said.
“A lot of times these investments happen independently from one another, making the entire system sub optimal.
“When taking each other’s investments into account, the entire system can become much more effective and efficient.”
The need to cut emissions has made it more important for ports and authorities to work with private sector parties and investors.
According to de Knegt, ports should collaborate with private investors and “show them that investing in environmental, social and government (ESG) friendly” plans provide “much more stable as well as higher returns”.
When it comes to launching such projects, the criteria for investments varies depending on the port and its partner, according to de Knegt.
“[Criteria for investment] depends highly on the investor, but obviously sufficient return is most important as well as a good mechanism to ensure the investment is and remains classified as sustainable,” de Knegt explained.
Is hydrogen the answer?
According to de Knegt, the biggest trend ports will see in the near future is the development of “hydrogen supply chains”, but there will also be other areas of investment, including waste-heat networks and “digital efficiency development”.
“It really depends on the type of goods that you port(s) handle as to what you should prioritise, it should be a decision based on maximum ESG and Financial impact,” de Knegt explained.
As a zero-emission fuel, hydrogen liquid can be transformative for ports due to its ability to reduce greenhouse gases, urban pollution, and fossil fuels, according to an exclusive insight from PTI in May 2021.
Hydrogen can also provide benefits in reducing noise pollution and NOx compared to fossil-fuelled operations.
It can unlock numerous benefits for ports in cargo-handling equipment, supply chain stakeholders, and, in the future, potentially hydrogen-powered vessels.
The emphasis on developing an efficient logistics network for clean fuels has become a key area of investment and collaboration, in particular for the Port of Rotterdam.
In August 2021 the Port and a coalition of its partners including Koole Terminals, Chiyoda Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation signed an agreement to jointly study the commercial-scale import of hydrogen from overseas.
The Port Authority’s role predominantly is to connect major hydrogen end-users in Northwest Europe and competitive overseas hydrogen suppliers.
In addition, de Knegt says the Port Authority is planning further initiatives and projects to improve its carbon emissions, including in the digital sphere, but that ports and all stakeholders need to cooperate if they are going to be successful in becoming cleaner.
“There are quite some investments planned in the short and medium term in terms of sustainable and digital investments, these are all aimed at making the supply chains and clusters more efficient. However, we also continue with expansionary investments.
“There is a portfolio of €1.5 billion ($1.75 billion) for the next 5 years, with sufficient projects on the “bench” to ensure that we always choose the most impactful investments.
“It is important to share learnings to ensure that everyone can benefit from these. We have a shared obligation to make this transition happen together, sharing information and learning from one another supports that.