Asia switches its focus to green initiatives

Shanghai Yangshan Port’s new fully automated terminal is aiming for zero-emissions

Green initiatives at Asian ports are on the rise as the region looks to curb shipping-related pollution, writes Sam Whelan.

China’s Marine Safety Administration (MSA) has extended the domestic Emissions Control Areas (ECAs) to include all ports within the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and Bohai Bay from 2019.

Chinese ports are being encouraged to aid shipping lines by providing clean shore power. According to World Resources Institute China, government subsidies will see 493 berths equipped with shore power by 2020.

This shore-side electrification is extending to port handling equipment, such as ship-to-shore (STS) cranes. Shanghai Yangshan Port’s new fully automated terminal is aiming for zero-emissions and an overall cut to energy consumption of 70%.

Chinese ports are also playing a role in reducing pollution from hinterland operations by investing in rail connections to reduce truck miles, for example. According to Xinhua, Tianjin Port stopped receiving coal transported by diesel truck last July in favour of rail shipments.

Driving sustainability

However, Dr Jonathan Beard, head of transportation and logistics at engineering consultant Arcadis, says ports should not be expected to drive sustainability “outside the gate” without regulatory support.

“Care has to be taken so that one port is not penalised versus its competitors for pushing higher emission standards,” he says, referencing incentives to move inland cargo moves off roads and the introduction of China’s three ECAs.

As part of a wider crackdown on smog-producing pollution - including the shutdown of thousands of factories last year - the Chinese government has banned imports of certain waste materials, such as unsorted waste-paper. This has led to an increased focus on waste-to-energy solutions elsewhere in Asia.

“Some stakeholders are looking at opportunities in other Asian locations where ports have a surfeit of empty containers on inbound trades and a country regime that encourages waste-to-energy power generation,” explains Dr Beard.

Innovative technology

In Southeast Asia, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), along with container terminal operator PSA International, have a strong track record of innovation in port technology and processes and emission reduction is no exception.

In February 2018, MPA launched the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM). ITM’s goal is to make port operations more efficient by capitalising on emerging technologies to achieve faster clearances. MPA hopes to grow the maritime sector by S$4.5 billion and create over 5,000 jobs by 2025.

The port authority also signed an MOU with Shell to advance clean fuel technologies, including greater automation to reduce emissions. For its part, PSA Singapore is installing an eco-friendly 4MW solar photovoltaic system. Built by Sunseap Group, the clean energy system will power five PSA facilities, including terminal buildings, gates and a maintenance base.

The Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) in neighbouring Malaysia has installed new cable reel technology to provide electrical power for high-reach STS cranes. Supplied by Cavotec, the eight reels will boost green efficiency by optimising productivity and reducing the environmental impact of handling operations.

Johor Port Authority (JPA) has teamed up with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia to develop an online Ship Emission Management System (SEMS). Terminal operators, such as PTP, are required to report ship activities using SEMS, which helps JPA to monitor, calculate and regulate emissions through web-based and mobile applications.

Curbing sulphur

As the 2020 IMO regulation curbing sulphur emissions approaches, implementing LNG bunkering is one way ports can help shipping lines reduce pollution. In Thailand, an LNG bunkering feasibility study is underway at Laem Chabang port; while China’s Ningbo-Zhousan Port has joined Singapore’s MPA-led LNG bunkering focus group, which aims to develop a network of LNG bunker-ready ports.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Saigon Newport (SNP) was awarded the Green Port Award System - a green evaluation system developed by APEC Port Services Network (APSN). SNP received the award in recognition of continuously upgrading equipment using clean energy; training employees on environmental protection and its initiatives on reducing dust and noise, includingplanting trees along berths and internal roads.

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