What is a green port?
We can start by asking ourselves what is a green port. Green ports are ports that operate in an environmentally-friendly way, taking into account all the environmental and social impacts of their activities. This is not an easy challenge due to several factors associated with port operations.
Pollution originated in ports (such as greenhouse gases, harmful particles, or noise) is dangerous for the nearby population, and for this reason it must be analysed and minimised as much as possible.
In the last decade, a strategy for sustainable growth has been developed by the European Commission, containing a long-term approach to sustainability in which economic growth, social cohesion, and environmental protection go hand-in-hand and benefit from each other.
Are there a lot of green ports?
There are several regulations relevant to the matter. Just to quote a few examples, the international agreement to prevent ship pollution MARPOL, or the new Spanish Law of Ports, that makes it mandatory for ports to publish a memorandum of sustainability. These kind of regulatory actions make ports adapt and get greener.
Measures such as OPS (On-shore Power Supply) or Cold Ironing are being promoted in order to reduce port emissions of heavy fuels with high quantities of NOx, SOx and particles, as well as to mitigate the noise of ships at port.
Recently, several initiatives have been carried out to keep port authorities and private companies updated on these issues. The Green Energy Ports Conference, promoted by the Port Authority of Vigo with Inova Labs as collaborator, has stressed the importance of the environment and its conservation in regards to such a crucial field for world logistics as maritime transport and, accordingly, ports. Predictably, the next conference will take place during the summer of 2017.
How can we increase our efficiency with current solutions? How can we get a port to be smart?
Orderliness and resource efficiency, as well as good practises, are key to achieve the goals mentioned in this article. Presently, industrial sectors tend to collect data from their processes in order to improve them and optimise cost.
The application by ports of these technologies is not new. What is new is to use them in order to reduce the pollution generated by port operations. This is precisely the reason for the concept of smart green ports.
Monitoring port operations may allow ports to draw conclusions that would not be drawn by any other means. Accordingly, key actions can be taken to achieve the necessary system improvements. In fact, valuable lessons may be achieved by collecting data about, for instance, how much weight per hour is unloaded in a dock, how much energy do the facilities need, or how efficient is the connection with road transport.
Also in the field of energy, the fact that ports have to adapt to consumption peaks taking place at different parts of their grounds means that it is advisable to install smart grids in them. These grids transport energy efficiently from production centres to consumption points, rerouting energy within the port. Ultimately, smart grids help optimise the power flow and energy losses.
At Inova Labs, we use our knowledge and experience to support initiatives trying to increase energy efficiency, decarbonisation, and efficiency of port operations.