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European move to turn ports into green facilities, led by Belgium

11 minute read
The scope of work of the "Pioneers" project is wide and ambitious, It involves reviewing the various aspects of port operations with a view to radically improving them. Taking into account that the solutions are transportable and applicable in the largest number of ports, Whether at the level of terminal operations dealing with containers, franchise agreements, or movement within the port, or communications, or bunkering ships, or energy use, or alternative energy, or others.
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The Port of Antwerp hosts a spacious environment for experimenting and testing new ideas in the context of the concept of "smart ports", Over the past years, several technology initiatives have been tested and have yielded results that have been adopted in several other ports. In its leading role, The Belgian port will lead an international consortium recently established with the support of the European Union, It includes many private and state actors, With the aim of transforming Europe's ports into green facilities, Impact neutrality in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, It is equipped with innovative technologies that increase the effectiveness of services and elevate port operations to new levels of efficiency and sustainability.

Studies show that more than 80% of global trade takes place overseas. and that ports in general continue to be a source of environmental pollution and carbon emissions, Whether in terms of its heavy consumption of energy, fuel and its derivatives, or storing fossil fuels and supplying ships with them. The challenge here is to find appropriate alternatives to reduce these emissions without affecting the competitiveness of ports. And to ensure that it continues to provide standard services at affordable prices. In addition to the need to reconsider all aspects of port operation and infrastructure to take advantage of technology and keep pace with progress in various other shipping and transport sectors. The bulk of the solutions offered or potential depend on research and innovation. This is what the new European ports project for which the Union was founded seeks. WHICH WAS NAMED PIONEERS, An abbreviation for "Open Network for Innovative Solutions in Increasing Efficiency and Reducing Emissions in Ports".

Pioneers will receive a grant of €25 million (US$28.23 million) from the European Horizon 2020 programme, which will be disbursed to complete the project within five years from the end of 2021. This is the largest EU research and innovation programme to date. It finances projects that ensure Europe's global competitiveness over the next seven years with a total balance of €80 billion (US$90.30 billion).

The scope of work of the "Pioneers" project is wide and ambitious, It involves reviewing the various aspects of port operations with a view to radically improving them. Taking into account that the solutions are transportable and applicable in the largest number of ports, Whether at the level of terminal operations dealing with containers, franchise agreements, or movement within the port, or communications, or bunkering ships, or energy use, or alternative energy, or others.

During the project, A number of innovative solutions that have received European Horizon 2020 approval will be operationally implemented. It consists of 19 solutions presented by representatives of the "Pioneers" consortium, which includes 46 partners that include some ports, and terminal operators, shipping companies, suppliers, In addition to research institutions, technology development companies, Innovation centers, and government sector institutions.

The most prominent of these solutions revolve around the production and supply of clean energy, Sustainable designs for future ports, And a qualitative shift in loading and unloading operations and facilitating the movement of containers, and digital transformation. These solutions include the following tasks: Renewable energy generation; provision of electric, hydrogen gas and methanol vehicles; modifications to the port's heating buildings and systems to increase energy efficiency; the use of a circular economy approach in infrastructure business; process automation; the development of digital platforms to increase the efficiency of container handling; and the best level of ship and truck traffic.

The port of Antwerp will be, It is the second largest port in Europe, a platform to implement the majority of these solutions before they are approved and recommended, This role has been dubbed the "lighthouse" that will guide the rest of the ports to the required path in terms of reducing emissions and raising the efficiency of operations. Three ports will participate in the Pioneers project. It is Barcelona in Spain, and Constanta in Romania, and Venlo in the Netherlands, They will have contributions to the design of proposed solutions and an important role in increasing the applicability of these solutions in their facilities. These ports were carefully selected to participate because they represent different models in terms of size, location, environment and nature of work. This means that its success in transferring the Antwerp experience will promote the adoption of solutions in many of Europe's ports.

The nomination of the Port of Antwerp to lead the project is also for good reasons. Although it is responsible for an estimated 15-10% of Belgium's carbon dioxide emissions, However, it began a long time ago to systematically apply the concept of innovation in preserving the environment in its operations, It is planned to become emissions neutral by 2050, It also seeks to become a sustainable utility by balancing Belgium's economic, social and environmental interests. It also announced the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations within its mission and business plan, guided by a roadmap that charts the course to 2030.

In addition Port of Antwerp's objectives are aligned with the Pioneers Consortium's most important goals in terms of the transition to clean energy. For example, The port plans to become an integrated terminal for various fuels in 2025. Transiting sea and river vessels can be refueled not only by conventional fuel, It also has low-carbon alternatives such as methanol, hydrogen or electric power. In an experiment that is the first of its kind, The port converted one of the tugboats to run on methanol instead of traditional fuel, This is part of a project funded by the European Union to demonstrate the feasibility of using methanol as an efficient and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels in port activities.

Another example of Port of Antwerp's achievements in innovation to increase work efficiency and ensure safety is Start using autonomous drones (or flying robots) to support the day-to-day operations of the facility. This step comes as part of the "Port of the Future" platform project, which aims to launch new technological innovations to support the port's work environment. These aircraft will initially enable port authorities to manage inspections and supervision in large parts of the facility in a safe and fast manner. The importance of this step is evident as the area of the port is more than 120 square kilometers.

The port has dedicated a 100-hectare plot of land to host new circular economy industries by 2023.


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