Ports, shipping and the journey to net zero

“Ports are becoming the future generation hubs of clean energy. They aim to be the energy centres of the future and have the potential to do that,” says Mustafa Mirza, port electrification analyst for Power Technology Research.

Mirza was speaking in an online discussion about the role of ports and shipping in Europe’s decarbonisation journey.

He was joined by Delphine Gozillon, policy officer sustainable shipping at Transport & Environment (T&E), and Rhona Macdonald, sustainability advisor at British Ports Association, for a candid discussion on the decarbonisation of ports, as well as the barriers to progress in the sector.

Will ports be Fit for 55?

Europe has a strong policy framework driving sector change, said Delphine Gozillon, with policies that aim to minimise pollution from burning heavy fuel oil and encourage the use of shoreside power.

“Fit for 55 and the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation tackle how to promote clean air in EU ports,” said Gozillon.

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She stressed that although these policies promote the development of shore power, the lack of all encompassing mandates will hinder progress. “Shoreside electricity is the answer. For the first time, ports and ships will be mandated, but only for container and passenger ships…”.

According to Gozillon, regulators need to stop encouraging the use of emissions heavy fuels. LNG is no longer an acceptable fuel, rather infrastructure must be developed to support the use of ammonia and hydrogen and the use of clean fuels must be mandated.

The future of shore power

Mirza predicts the shore power market for ports will be valued at $3.5 billion over the next five years.

However, the sector must address potential bottlenecks, he suggested, such as lack of industry coordination and technical knowledge to install systems, and the need for strong T&D infrastructure.

Mirza also emphasised the collaborative relationship between ports and utility companies to successfully develop shore power. “Ports and utility companies need to work more closely together to ensure the power model is a success.”

The sentiment was echoed by Rhona Macdonald from British Ports Association, who spoke of the importance of a successful power model and viable business case to ensure investment in future technology and fuels.

“In the UK, shore power is a competitive environment operating without public funding,” said Macdonald.

“There is still a lack of clarity in terms of demand from shipping for cleaner fuels as well as safety concerns for storing and producing these different new fuels such as hydrogen“.

Macdonald explained that electrification, particularly shore power, is going to be key to decarbonising, however, “without the support of public funding this will be difficult to enforce in the UK if ports do not have the necessary funds to build this infrastructure”.

High capital costs and insufficient capacity in local networks are also impacting the business case for short power.

Listen to the recorded discussion on demand.

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