Achieving cost effective green port transformation

Figure 1 - HPC's approach to pursue a green port transformation
Figure 1 - HPC's approach to pursue a green port transformation
Figure 2 - HPC's Environmental Tool Box
Figure 2 - HPC's Environmental Tool Box
Figure 3 - HPC’s Logistics and Energy Terminal Simulation Tool
Figure 3 - HPC’s Logistics and Energy Terminal Simulation Tool

How can ports identify both feasible and the most efficient measures to improve their environmental and economic sustainability? Dr Johannes Schmidt and Dr Nils Kemme from HPC Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH and DrLars-Peter Lauven from the University of Göttingen present their approach to achieve this goal.

Drivers and barriers

For the maritime industry worldwide, both energy efficiency and the use of renewables have become increasingly important topics. The reason for this is not only to meet increasing regulatory requirements and stakeholder demands, but also as a means to improve profitability; significant cost-saving and image potentials can be exploited by improving operations, adopting energy efficient technologies and using renewable energy sources.

Fostering energy sustainability to reduce energy intensity and increase the use of renewable energy sources can thus be essential for obtaining and strengthening a leadership position for ports.

Despite the increasing importance of improving the energy sustainability in ports, there is currently a high level of uncertainty among ports and terminals to find the most promising measures to achieve this aim. This is mainly due to the fact that there is only limited information available about the effectiveness of energy sustainability measures in relation to associated costs and effects on operational performance. For terminal operators, however, cost-efficiency and long-term profitability are important prerequisites for the implementation of energy sustainability measures.

Structured approach

Filling the gap, HPC Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH has developed a structured, model-based approach to assist ports and terminals in improving both its environmental and economic sustainability. Ports can therefore pursue a so-called “green port transformation” in line with environmental, regulatory and community requirements. Based on this approach, our experts can identify, classify, evaluate and prioritise feasible measures that can be implemented either in a single terminal, or in the port as a whole, to improve the level of energy sustainability.

The approach to pursue a green port transformation consists of four consecutive steps. The first step is an on-site terminal inspection to compile a detailed overview of the structural equipment and infrastructure conditions on the port, collect energy consumption data and capture the operational processes in the terminal.

Based on this information, our experts can already pre-select promising energy sustainability measures. To this end, a comprehensive database comprising a broad range of energy sustainability measures for all kind of terminals and port authorities is used.

In the next step, a more detailed analysis is carried out to evaluate the shortlisted measures, using an Environmental Tool Box including integrated port logistics and energy simulations and life cycle assessments, as well as profitability models.

Based on these tools, not only credible and accurate statements about the resulting environmental and cost-saving potentials can be made, but also financial and operational resources that may result from the implementation of a measure can be assessed. In the final step, a tailored energy sustainability roadmap is produced, providing a phased implementation timeline for the most promising measures (For example, those with a high energy and emission savings potential and relatively low efforts to implement). Ultimately, the approach is the key for fully informed decisions on favourable energy sustainability measures.

Environmental Tool Box

Some of HPC’s sophisticated environmental tools have been developed and evolved in collaboration with partners from industry and academia within the frame of the “SuStEnergyPort” project, which is partly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVi) in the context of the funding programme “Innovative Port Technologies” (IHATEC).

Consortium partners are Germany’s leading container terminal operator HHLA, the Swedish utility Vattenfall’s subsidiary Vattenfall Energy Trading GmbH and researchers from the University of Göttingen (Chair of Production & Logistics).

The energy sustainability catalogue developed comprises more than 200 energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. All measures are clearly structured and pre-evaluated according to three criteria: Energy saving potential, emission reduction potential (air and greenhouse gas) and efforts for implementation.

A measure with high energy and emissions saving potential, but also high implementation efforts is, for example, the deployment of state-of-the-art cargo handling equipment such as fully-electric AGVs.

In previous projects, HPC experts have found energy and costs savings of more than 5% over the whole lifetime that mainly result from lower maintenance costs and fuel consumption. Another proven mean to reduce energy consumption of cargo handling equipment – which is also relatively easy to implement – is offering employees eco-driving lessons. In some container terminals, average fuel savings of 5 to10% per operating hour were achieved at unchanged terminal performance levels.

Simulation tool

Enabling a highly accurate, terminal-specific assessment of energy effects and operational implications of sustainability measures, HPC’s proven terminal simulation tool HPCsim does not only model all terminal operations, but also captures the resulting energy consumption and emissions of a terminal in unrivalled level of detail.

Over a multi-week period, all terminal operations are realistically modelled, including terminal-specific layout, equipment, processes and cargo flows and the corresponding energy consumption and emissions continuously tracked on basis of incremental equipment movements, taking into account equipment characteristics, loaded weight, temperature, wind and other energy-relevant aspects. Even terminal lighting, buildings, workshop and other fixed consumers, as well as own energy generation and energy storage are considered.

As a result, HPCsim uniquely provides highly detailed and proven accurate simulation results on both operational terminal performance, as well energy consumption and emissions, enabling a profound assessment of energy savings and emission reductions against achieved operational performance levels.

For example, one container terminal decided to implement dual cycling for quay cranes on basis of simulation results that demonstrated an energy saving potential in the range of 15 to 20%. In another project, simulation revealed a cost saving potential for fully-electric AGVs by up to 50% through the implementation of an energy management system.

These potentials are also a key driver for the participating energy partner. "We at Vattenfall have the ambition to support our partners in reducing their CO2 footprint and through this project we can contribute with our expertise" says Vattenfall´s project coordinator, Thomas Breitkreuz.

To quantify the environmental consequences of energy sustainability comprehensively, the team has developed life cycle assessments models. These models allow us to analyse the environmental impact of equipment during their entire life cycle – for example, production, use and disposal phases.

Several impact categories are being considered, including climate change, acidification or particulate matter. This enables a comprehensive assessment of how environmentally beneficial it would be to implement an energy sustainability measure. Life cycle assessments have shown that the use of fully-electric AGVs compared to conventional AGVs can result in a greenhouse gas emission reduction of up to 60% over the whole lifecycle.

The applied Environmental Tool Box also includes profitability models to elaborate financial analyses for energy sustainability measures. The financial assessment rests on capital and operational expenditures estimates. Based on this, a cash flow analysis for each measure, considering financial performance indicators such as Net Present Value (NPV), Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and payback period, can be provided. In a sensitivity analysis, the results can be tested against changes in cost and revenues.

Outcome and benefits

The need for a more sustainable energy use is especially relevant for ports, which are crucial hubs in the global trading system.

Ensuring a high level of energy sustainability in ports may also help to bring about ecological, economic and technological advantages. Based on the developed and proved approach as well as the described sophisticated Environmental Tool Box, the experts can help ports and terminals to improve their level of environmental sustainability and thus pave the way for prosperous logistics service provision in line with community requirements.

In addition, simulation of energy sustainability measures can support ports and terminals to ensure that increasingly strict environmental regulations can be met in the future by identifying feasible and particularly effective measures to improve the level of energy efficiency or increase the use of renewable energy in the most efficient way.


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