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GreenPort Cruise & Congress 2021: Grab green solutions

The 2021 GreenPort Cruise & Congress opened yesterday, 20 October with a clear message: There has never been a more critical time for ports to harness green solutions as the race for investment in future fuels and decarbonisation accelerates.

The 16th edition of GreenPort Congress, currently being held in Piraeus, Greece from 20-22 October 2021 and titled ‘Advancing the Green Deal Through Collaboration’ will highlight a range of themes including; Sustainable development in Port Infrastructure, the latest in Sustainable cruise ships & technological innovation, Greening of Ports & Shipping and Digitalisation for improved port efficiency.

Speaking at the Port of Piraeus-hosted event at the Athens Marriott Hotel, Isabelle Ryckbost, Secretary General of ESPO, said that with regards to investment, ports and shipping are still playing the chicken and egg game, but ports are “part of the new energy economy and taking a more active role in investing”. She added that new partnerships and stakeholders are also important, and ports can take the opportunity presented by the energy transition to improve port city relations.

Linden Coppell, Director of Sustainability, MSC Cruises discussed the company’s combined faith and caution in LNG investment. Three of its ships on firm order are LNG, including the first of MSC’s world class series of ships. Coppell said MSC is not looking at LNG long term, but as a transition to either bio-LNG, from alternative feedstocks or synthetic LNG using hydrogen and captured carbon. Or even a different form of hydrogen.

According to Coppell: “We need to make the right technology decisions, because ultimately it will come down to the fuels that are available to us."

"Ultimately it will be necessary for us to make decisions into the future. We can’t expect ports to have many different types of fuels available to us. But we have to keep our options open.”

Financing decarbonisation was also discussed between Ryckbost, Coppell and Captain Wen from the Port of Piraeus, with agreement from all that while gaps in usage need to be avoided, investment must be seen as a priority, wherever it comes from, as port installations take around five years to complete and that investment must be done in a fair and equitable way.

Addressing the mammoth task of meeting energy requirements, Roger Strevens, VP of Global Sustainability at Wallenius Wilhelmsen said that California is setting the pace for ro-ro shipping. Noting the small margin for error, Strevens said: “We can’t afford to have limitations in our fleet deployment flexibility, as this decreases efficiency and decreases revenues.” He stressed being sure what solutions ports are investing in is key, so as not to waste time and resources on a solution that isn’t being adopted. Knowing what competitors are doing is also important for standardisation across the industry, he added.

Malte A Siegert, Chairman of NABU spoke on the topic of ‘ammonia as an alternative fuel’, providing some insight on the pros and cons of the fuel that is both already in use and emerging throughout the maritime sector. He said ammonia is a winner in terms of availability, price and the fact it is carbon free, however, it is a risky fuel because it is toxic to humans and marine life. A better investment might be to develop methanol from a green source.

Captain Michael McCarthy, Chair of Cruise Europe, told cruise stream delegates about the company’s ‘strategy for sustainable cruising – port reception facilities and new technologies. He said one of the biggest challenges for ports is the fact planning permission can take 5-9 years as this obviously limits how fast ports can invest in technologies like onshore power and offshore wind.

Demonstrating the benefits of partnerships at the Port of Piraeus cruise terminal, Thanassis Karlis, Strategic Planning and Marketing Officer at Piraeus Port Authority, told delegates that working with local universities has enabled the port to install an air monitoring station, while the port is also working with a group of young people to generate ideas about future sustainability initiatives. The terminal is currently building two new cruise berths with shore power availability to further cut emissions.

The subject of shore power continued with Associated British Ports (ABP) as Sue Simmonite, Sustainable Development Manager at ABP Port of Southampton, confirmed two terminals at the port will be shore power enabled by next year, but acknowledged power availability and finance are key challenges with the technology.

For the full Day 1 round up please click here​

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