Equipment, research and collaboration focus

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has encouraged the electrification of port equipment to achieve emissions goals for some time Photo: Zairon/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has encouraged the electrification of port equipment to achieve emissions goals for some time Photo: Zairon/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Researchers working on a locally designed scrubber at ERI@N Photo: Energy Research Institute/Nanyang Technological University
Researchers working on a locally designed scrubber at ERI@N Photo: Energy Research Institute/Nanyang Technological University

Asia Pacific ports are taking a three-pronged approach to sustainable maritime operations deploying energy efficient port equipment, funding research and development projects and international port collaboration initiatives, writes Sam Whelan

For example, in China and Hong Kong, global terminal operator China Merchants Port Holdings (CMPort) is placing greater emphasis on energy efficient equipment as a way to reduce costs.

“The effective use of energy is not only conducive to easing pressure on national energy shortage, but is also helpful to reduce corporate operating cost,” CMPort notes in its annual report.

The port group highlighted this energy drive through two rubber-tyred gantry crane (RTG) projects and a plan to shift to shore-side power supply for containerships.

CMPort has upgraded its RTGs by switching from fuel-power to electricity and by implementing remote control systems. The switch to electricity has helped reduce fuel consumption by 50%, while the remote-control systems increased driver efficiency. Onene driver can now be allocated to several cranes from inside a central control tower, rather than operating a single crane from its cab.

As the regulatory net tightens on the shipping industry, shore-side power is an important way ports can aid carriers in reducing emissions. CMPort said it intends to roll out power supply facilities at all its existing docks and cease to use generating units in vessels.

R&D

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has encouraged the electrification of port equipment to achieve emissions goals for some time. However, the port authority has taken this green-tech quest a step further by establishing research and development (R&D) units with local universities.

“MPA believes that R&D effort is needed to develop innovative solutions for sustainability in the maritime sector,” says MPA sustainability office director, Tan Suan Jow.

“To deepen maritime R&D competencies, we have partnered with the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) to set up three maritime research Centres of Excellence (CoEs) within local institutes of higher learning.”

According to Tan, the first CoE was launched last year by SMI and Nanyang Technological University in the form of a S$15 million programme focussed on energy management, emissions management and sustainable maritime operations.

The second launched in early 2018 between SMI and National University of Singapore. It focuses on port modelling, simulation and optimisation capabilities to enhance the port’s ability to handle increasingly complex operations and improve efficiency.

“The third CoE soon to be established by SMI and Singapore Polytechnic, will focus on innovations to enhance navigational safety, which is an important component of our sustainability drive,” adds Tan.

“We hope supporting the establishment of such CoEs will not only help to deepen our R&D capabilities, but also contribute towards greenhouse gas reduction in our effort to limit climate change effects by improving productivity, which translates into greater resource efficiency.”

Collaboration

MPA’s collaboration efforts extend to international cooperation, too. It set up the Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR) in 2015 to bring authorities from major ports around the world together to network and share insights on best practices.

This led to the idea to develop a network of LNG bunker-ready ports across the key East-West trades. The 11 port participants work together to encourage the adoption of LNG bunker by ship owners and to deepen cooperation and information sharing amongst the port authorities.

As well as MPA, the participants include Antwerp Port Authority; Port of Rotterdam; Port of Zeebrugge; Port of Jacksonville; Norway’s Maritime Authority; Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism; South Korea’s Ulsan Port Authority; Port of Ningbo-Zhoushan; Port of Marseille Fos and Port of Vancouver.

“In a closely-interconnected world, Singapore recognises that we have to work in partnership with other maritime and port administrators to promote sustainability and achieve a higher impact in environmental protection,” notes Tan.

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