In April 2018, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted a landmark climate change strategy that calls for greenhouse gate (GHG) emissions from international shipping to peak “as soon as possible” and to reduce by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.

The move is the latest in a series of regulatory and corporate moves at global, regional and local level to ‘decarbonise’ freight transport and logistics, spurred on most recently by the 2016 global UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

At the interface between sea and land, ports are increasingly impacted by regulatory, business and societal demands to reduce their environmental impact. While decarbonisation and air quality are high on the list, reducing noise, light and dust pollution are also key.

IMO is of course a maritime regulator, but its environmental legislation certainly impacts ports, for instance in the need to install shore power facilities that reduce vessel emissions while berthed, provide reception facilities for ships’ waste that were previously disposed of at sea and develop bunkering facilities for LNG and other alternative low carbon fuels.

Decarbonising shipping and ports

Recognising the growing need to ‘close the gap between ship and shore’ across a number of issues, including decarbonisation, automation and digitalisation, this April saw the International Association of Ports and Harbors launch the World Ports Sustainability Program (WPSP) and IAPH Secretary General Patrick Verhoeven joins this year’s Shipping & PortWatch session during the Container Supply Chain conference at TOC Europe 2018 in Rotterdam, 12-14 June, to discuss next steps for port authorities, cargo handlers and regulators.

For port and container terminal operators with a ‘people, planet and profit’ motivation, creating a cleaner environment also goes hand-in-glove with the drive for better energy economy, as increasing ship size and handling volumes place greater power demands on operations. This year’s free-to-attend TECH TOC seminars include a June 14 session on Clean Technologies, where speakers will provide updates on latest advances in cleantech, eco-efficiency and energy economy strategies for ports and terminals.

Port equipment and the circular economy

“Only together as an industry we can strengthen the efficient use of materials, eco-efficiency and create value for our customers,” says Satu Kaivonen, Environmental Specialist at Konecranes and one of this year’s speakers. “The circular economy is a hot topic in all industries: we have a major influence in the material handling value chain and need to start thinking about how we support the Paris Agreement in real life. Port products can be designed to enable their reuse and recycling or be replaced with services and, when possible, using innovating energy sources such as solar power.” Another way to avoid excessive environmental impacts, he adds, is “by applying improvements and retrofits to existing equipment to expand their life span and to digitalize the existing equipment.”

Managing greater grid demands

Managing the cost, supply and eco-credentials of underlying power infrastructure – including use of renewables and self-generated energy – is a growing focus to meet greater electricity demands on terminals, including electrification of handling equipment, refrigerated container operations and increased provision of shore power for vessels. This issue will be addressed by a variety of speakers at TECH TOC this year.   

New power infrastructure concept for greener container terminals is the focus for Roberto Bernacchi, Global Product Manager – Ship-to-Shore Power & Smart Ports at ABB, while Chris Pretorius, Head of BD Energy Management at Siemens Electric will look at electrification of terminals and the impact on grid stability and power bills.

“Electrification of  equipment  is  an  ongoing  process – first  the  quay  cranes  then  the  yard  cranes  followed  by  an  ever  increasing  amount  of  reefers  slots and then  the  introduction  of  battery-driven  vehicles  and  shore-side  power  supply  for  berthed  vessels,” says Pretorius. “Total power demand  is increasing,  power  factors are distorted  and  peaks  create  overload  on  the  power  grid. Plus, terminal operators are seeing big changes in their power bills.” His presentation will address proper  dimensioning  of  power  infrastructure  to  cope  with  increased  demand and how terminals can reduce their monthly power bills,

 “Electrification of ports is placing new demands on electricity grids and the electricity grid is also changing with more intermittent renewable sources and increasing demands from other electricity users. But new opportunities are also arising globally for major industrial consumers to secure cost savings by reducing their peak loads on the electrical network,” adds Richard Bradshaw, CEO of recent market entrant Cress Systems.

Working with the UK University of Reading, Cress studied the energy flows of container handling equipment at a global top 50 port during a period when it was increasingly electrifying its large fleet of yard cranes, placing pressures on the main grid supply and raising concerns that peaks in demand would lead to excess charges and potentially exceed supply. Cress’s paper at TECH TOC will present data from the study, discuss the peak load challenge presented by electrification and outline the potential for energy storage to manage the issues.

Alternative power for mobile plant

Alternative power options for mobile handling equipment including lift trucks, reach stackers, terminal tractors and mobile cranes are also on the agenda this year. “Hybrid and fully electric lift trucks are products about to debut in the market, yet their pros and cons are largely unknown,” says Davide Bertozzi, Director of Business Development & Member of the Board at CVS Ferrari, which will launch a fully electric container lift truck during the show. The new technologies have a “massively lower total cost of ownership” than conventionally-powered lift trucks, asserts Bertozzi, whose presentation will analyse the economic and non-economics factors influencing the future power options for lift trucks.

Jan-Willem van den Brand, Director – Big Truck Products, Strategy & Solutions and Willem Nieuwland, Project Leader for Hyster will also explore alternative energy sources for mobile plant, looking at the adoption of li-ion batteries and fuel cells in large vehicles and where and how these technologies can be deployed, including charging and power supply in the port. “Zero emissions is an important focus point for the future and by electrifying ports and port equipment we can contribute to a better environment,” says Hyster. The company adds that standardisation of chargers used on large electric vehicles is currently “non-existent” and that this issue needs to be addressed to enable future wide-scale adoption.

Volvo Penta also joins the line-up to discuss learnings from its proof-of-concept project to develop a terminal tractor equipped with a hybrid bus powertrain. “The Volvo Group  has  in  the  past  decade  introduced several innovative ectromobility solutions for commercial  vehicles and is  now  expanding  its  offer  of  full electric  trucks  and  buses.  Our  presentation  will  explore the  benefits  of  sharing  this  powertrain  technology  in  off-road  segments such  as  material  handling and  which  product  features  this  enables,” says Niklas Thulin, Director – Electromobility, Volvo Penta.

At the top end of the mobile scale, designers of heavy diesel-driven mobile  harbor  cranes are also researching how to improve eco-efficiency. Dr.  Jörg  Müller, Director Technology,  Business  Unit  Mobile  Harbor  Cranes for Konecranes will discuss a recent project to create  a  new  drive  system  standard  combining  hybrid  technology  with  a single  downsized  diesel  engine  across the company’s whole range, combing one  or  two  engines  and  packs  of  high-performance ultra-capacitors  for  energy  storage. 

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