Why is the identification of relevant stakeholders key to transforming ports into clean energy hubs?

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The EU Maritime transport accounts for approximately 13% of its transport GHG emissions. This puts maritime transport, ships, and ports, under pressure to green their activities and transit to low and near zero emission port. This is also deemed a necessary step in order to achieve the EU ambitious goals, for example, the EU green deal and the ensuing climate law. 

The green deal aims to achieve 55% reduction and net zero carbon by 2030 and 2050 respectively. In parallel, the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, flowing from the European Green Deal, puts achievement of zero-emission ports as top priority, i.e., to become “clean energy hubs for integrated electricity systems, hydrogen and other low carbon fuels, and testbeds for waste reuse and the circular economy”. As a consequence, the EU commission proposed measures to incentivize the decarbonization of ports such as the deployment of renewable energy production, use of and low-carbon fuels for ship bunkering, including optimization of port calls and smart traffic management, among others… Other specialized collaborative plans were also developed, e.g., PORTS 2030, which intended to explore the potential of energy transition solutions in ports. On this basis, port energy transition is not an option. Still, it is an inevitable process that ports need to go through.

The energy transition can be defined as changing the port status from high to a very low energy and efficient consumer using, inter alia, green fuel and renewable energy while reducing carbon emission to low and near zero. The transition is therefore dependent on various activities that entail i) installation of various technologies (e.g., onshore power supply (OPS), electrification and hybridization of equipment, smart and microgrids, renewable energy such as wind, wave, tide, photovoltaics, solar and geothermal energy generation), ii) operational measures (e.g., use of automated equipment, and yards, birth, and cranes scheduling, idling reduction and economical driving), and iii) the use of alternative and cleaner fuels for powering equipment (Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, ethanol, biodiesel). In addition, the energy transition requires policy and management tools to facilitate implementation.

The transition is a very complex process that also needs revolutionary actions in the port management including other necessary steps, such as reskilling and upskilling labour, and capital and operational costs that may require subsidies or loans. For the success of any project, ports need to identify and manage relevant stakeholders, among other procedures. The stakeholders’ management emerged as a field of study and practice owing to the industry’s need to plan, control, and manage huge, complicated series of operations (projects), such as building hospitals, bridges, shipyards, and ports. According to the EU MSP (Marine Spatial Planning) Directive, the management of maritime areas is complicated and involves multiple levels of authorities, sectors, and other stakeholders. To effectively promote sustainable development, stakeholders must be included in the drafting of maritime plans at an appropriate stage.

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