In the global effort to reduce Green House Gases and carbon emissions, there is great importance for the shipping industry to decarbonise and move forward into a greener future. Shipping is a pivotal industry not only for transportation, but for the global economy.
In today’s globalized world, most goods are being transported by ships. This sector has been a major enabler and driver of globalization and establishment of global value chains for numerous commodities and products and will continue to play this important role in the decades to come. However, the high utilization of maritime transport entails a negative environmental footprint.
Over 80% of global trade volume and roughly 3% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the shipping industry, which has grown 20% in a decade, prompting several initiatives to decarbonise their energy systems and make seaports smarter and greener.
Decarbonization in shipping means that the shipping industry needs to transform into a form of green transport. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has put regulations in place to drive this transformation.
The IMO’s Initial Greenhouse Gas Strategy has three interlinked ambitions:
— A reduction in carbon intensity of international shipping by at least 40% by 2030 compared to 2008.
— Pursuing efforts to achieve a 70% reduction by 2050, compared to 2008.
— Reducing the total annual GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050.
It is expected that the IMO will revise this Initial Strategy in 2023 to put the sector on a 1.5ºC compatible pathway.
In the wake of escalating environmental concerns and a global call for sustainable practices, ports around the world are undergoing a profound transformation journey towards decarbonization. Ports are the lifeblood of global trade, connecting nations and facilitating the movement of goods across the seas.
However, the environmentally toll of traditional port operations, characterize by emission from ships and handling equipment, has prompted a fundamental shift toward sustainability. The decarbonization of ports have emerged as a critical initiative, driven by the need to mitigate climate change and create a more environmentally responsible maritime industry.
Decarbonizing ports will require a shift in technology and operations and an uptake of alternative low and zero GHG fuels. The transition entails a potential increase in maritime logistics costs, shipping rates and voyage times. Investments required to adjust ship designs, engines, operations, generate alternative low and zero carbon fuels at scale and implement green onboard technologies all have a price tag. This will drive up costs for shipowners, industry and, ultimately trade and the final consumer.
Key strategies for port decarbonization
Decarbonization of port operations involves adopting a combination of strategies and technology to reduce energy usage, replace fossil-fuel driven equipment with battery electric and decarbonise grid through the use of renewable energy.
In certain locations and circumstances using low Greenhouse Gas (GHG) fuels as a bridge technology.
Electrification of Equipment in port:
Electrification is undoubtedly one of the major players in the decarbonization of ports.
Electrification in port plays a crucial role in increasing decarbonization by replacing traditional fossil fuel-based power source with cleaner and more sustainable electricity. Transition from diesel powered to electric port equipment such as cranes, forklifts, and other cargo handling machinery, is a fundamental step in reducing emission.
Electrification of Ports and Harbors:
Electrifying ports and harbors can also cut CO2 on ships, by providing shore-to-ship battery charging and ‘cold ironing’ services that power ships while they are in berth, allowing them to shut down their diesel engines. Shore power is one of the most important measures to reduce carbon emissions in ports.
Renewable Energy integration in port:
The maritime sector has been searching for efficient solutions to change energy consumptions patterns of ports and ships to ensure sustainable operation and to reduce CO2 emissions to support sustainable transport in line with International Maritime Organization (IMO) policy guidelines.
Therefore, pursuing smart strategies by utilizing renewable energy sources, are beneficial towards attaining the core goals of the IMO, specifically CO2 emission reduction in the future. Installing renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, within the port area to generate clean and sustainable power will lead to lower carbon emissions in port area.
The implementation of various alternative marine fuels is regarded as a significant approach towards achieving decarbonization in the maritime sector.
The range of alternative marine fuels encompasses liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied biogas (LBG), hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, ethanol, and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). Digitalization and Optimization: digitalization and optimization in ports play a pivotal role in decarbonization by introducing efficiencies, reducing waste, and enabling more precise control over operations.
Leveraging on technologies such as smart grids, smart metering, predictive maintenance, emission monitoring system, and real time data analytics create a more sustainable operational environment and allows for continuous monitoring of equipment conditions through sensors and internet of things devices. In addition, smart system can optimize traffic flows, streamline logistics, and enhance operational efficiency, reducing unnecessary energy consumption and emission.
Green port policy and Regulations:
Green policy is a comprehensive set of guidelines, strategies, and initiatives adopted by a port authority to promote environmentally sustainable practice and reduce the ecological impact of port operations. Many ports are adopting green port policies that outline sustainability goals and strategies.
These strategies may include commitment to reducing emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and incorporating environmentally friendly technologies. These policies encompass a wide range of measures aimed at minimizing the carbon footprint and enhancing the overall environmental performance of port.
Research and Innovation:
Research and innovation play a crucial role in decarbonization by driving innovation, advancing technologies, and creating solutions that contribute to reducing carbon emissions in port environments. Research and development are catalyst for transformative change in the pursuit of decarbonization. By investing in research and development, port industry can unlock new possibilities, discover innovative solutions, and propel the transition towards a more sustainable, low-carbon future.
While the journey towards decarbonization is promising, it is not without challenges. The transition requires significant investment in infrastructure, technological innovation, and collaborative efforts among stakeholders. Overcoming these challenges necessitate a shared commitment from governments, port authorities, shipping companies, and the broader maritime industry.
The decarbonization of port is more than a strategic response to regulatory changes; it is a declaration of the maritime industry commitment to environmental stewardship. As ports worldwide embark on this transformative journey, they are not merely reducing their carbon footprints; they are shaping the future of sustainable maritime operations. The waves of change are here, and the decarbonization of ports is a beacon guiding the industry towards a cleaner, more resilient, and environmentally conscious future.