While much attention and debate has focused on the development of shipboard technology and future low- and zero-carbon marine fuels, shipowners and operators cannot make the journey to net zero without their port partners. And, conversely, ports cannot achieve their sustainability goals without like-minded shipowners and operators.
This is a point made by the Port of Houston’s Director of Environmental Affairs, Trae Camble, during the Maritime Air Pollution and Future Fuel Technologies Americas conference in Houston in April.
The Port of Houston has a stated goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Mr. Camble said, however, that the difficulty in achieving that goal stems from emissions that are beyond the port’s direct control, or those from ships and vehicles that use the port.
“As you may have all heard, it’s not easy, but getting to 90% is relatively possible,” Camble said. “But that last 10% is what most businesses in most ports are going to struggle with. Because a lot of things are out of their control: boats and trucks coming in and out. »
The port has done its part, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in reducing its emissions, including securing its electricity from solar and wind farms in Texas.
“Ports cannot achieve their sustainability goals without like-minded shipowners and operators”
“We have a lot of conversations based on shore power, cold ironing, bonded barge systems, and then zero-emission vehicles,” he said.
“I think hydrogen will play a role. Obviously, all-electric is the best way to go. But there are other transition elements, methanol, ammonia, which can also be used to help,” he said.
Partnerships, Mr. Camble said, are the key to finding solutions.
These conversations aren’t just isolated to Houston; they occur globally. Port of Amsterdam Director, Innovation, Jan Egbertsen, will discuss the port’s plans to be emissions-free by 2050 at the Maritime Air Pollution and Future Fuel Technologies Europe conference in Amsterdam on May 18-19, 2022. Among the topics Mr. Egbertsen will detail is the port’s “Clean Shipping Initiative”, which foresees that all sea cruises operated from the quay will be emission-free by 2030, with a further extension to all shipments by 2050. To achieve this, the port will adopt a three-pillar approach: first, it will make green hydrogen and methanol available and promote their use; second, it will make shore power available and look to other technologies to reduce or capture greenhouse gas emissions in the port; and third, it will implement digital infrastructure, improving efficiency and reducing time spent in port, thereby further reducing emissions. Many of these pieces are already moving into place at the port.
In one of its latest initiatives, the port has partnered with Rotterdam Port Authority, Groningen Seaports, North Sea Port and Gasunie on the HyXchange trading platform, which will facilitate green hydrogen trading. The platform will issue certificates – Guarantees of Origin – attesting that the hydrogen has been produced from sustainable energy. It’s partnerships like this that are essential for shipping to achieve net-zero emissions.
Of course, ports also need to be supported by other stakeholders, including policy makers. As the saying goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”