Collaborative working key to "net zero" goal

electric forklift trucks STILL Materials Handling electric forklift trucks at the Port of Southampton. Credit: Solent Stevedores/ ABP
Industry Database

The ports sector can expect to see innovative concession agreements alongside increased shoreside power and electric equipment usage following the UK Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation for the government to adopt a "net zero" goal for greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Charles Haine, maritime technical director, sustainability & climate change team, environment discipline at WSP, said an all-electric port may not be far away from being realised but terminal operators must cooperate with ports and the goals they set to see progress.

"We can certainly envisage ports being much cleaner and fossil fuel free by mid-Century," he said. "We may not be far from an all-electric port although the terminal operators must play ball alongside lofty goals being suggested by port authorities.

"Watch out for innovation in concession agreements, as exemplified by Port of Rotterdam integrating stringent targets over time."

Goal already set

The shipping industry is already well on its way to cutting emissions. In 2018 the IMO launched its strategy to reduce the total annual GHG emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050, an initiative which involves all stakeholders working together.

"Operating electric cranes and mobile equipment that regenerate energy is a growing sale point for the equipment suppliers already and electric vessels are already running in forward-thinking countries," said Mr Haine.

He said that despite the capex cost of connections being prohibitive in the uptake of shoreside power, the technology, for which ports have an EU-imposed deadline to implement by 2025, will become standard for vessels while berthed.

"Governments will soon have no option but to mandate this, on local air quality grounds alone," he said.

Ports will also need to consider collaboration with logistics companies, he added. For example, adding sufficient rapid charging points to port infrastructure is important to support the hybrid/EV trucks that are key to reducing emissions.

Ports may also need to be more flexible to cater for modifications featured on vessels themselves.

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