DidYouKnow posts related to MOST courses

Hydrogen

A Spotlight on Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Written by Lidia Slawinska

Written by: Lidia Slawinska, Digital Communications

Over the past decade hydrogen has really taken centre stage in the search for an alternative fuel for maritime transport. Different applications of the gas have been researched and trialled in various maritime scenarios. The most recent and most successful case in recent years, without a doubt, has been the development and implementation of hydrogen fuel cells. In this #DidYouKnow article we take a look at this technology and consider its impact on the maritime industry.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Fuel cell technology has been around since the early 1800s. A fuel cell is an “electrochemical energy conversion device that was invented in 1839 by William Grove to produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen into water” (GenCell Energy). Like regular batteries, fuel cell batteries can convert potential energy into electricity, and result in heat as a by-product. In the 1950s, in the heart of the Cold War arms and space races that took place between the USA and USSR, liquid hydrogen was explored as a powerful fuel and finally used to send rockets into space – taking it one step closer towards the hydrogen fuel cell.

In recent years this technology has been considered for freight transport journeys. As more and more research is being done on different sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, fuel cell technology took centre stage. Using the example of green hydrogen to power ships, researches have adapted Grove’s traditional concept to be able to use hydrogen’s energy and convert it to electricity and heat, and therewith power the vessels’ propulsion mechanisms. In other words, hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen with oxygen, and therewith produce electricity. The hydrogen is sourced from a tank that is built into the cell, where it then reacts with oxygen that is “sourced” from air. The resulting chemical reaction produces electricity, water and heat. The water and heat are released as water vapours, and thus are considered zero-emission by-products.

The electricity provides continuous energy to the ships as long as the cell is fed with the “fuel” – in this case hydrogen gas. This proves to be an advantage over conventional electric batteries that have a fixed shelf-life or need recharging . Fuel cells generate very little noise pollution, can easily be modified for different-sized vessels, and have no distinct moving parts. There is a general consensus that the vast majority of vessels could easily be retro-fitted with this technology – therewith lowering the carbon footprint of the shipping industry.

Hydrogen Sourcing

 It is not difficult to understand why scientists are excited about such capabilities of hydrogen – as it is the most abundant element on our planet. However, it is rare to find it in its isolated form. It can found in water and other hydrocarbon chemical elements such as methane. In order for it to be used in hydrogen fuel cells, the element needs to first be isolated through chemical, biological or solar-driven processes. (An interesting side-note is that nearly 85% of hydrogen is already being produced daily in fossil fuel refineries during the processes of removing sulphur from gasoline).

There are sustainable sourcing solutions utilised by some companies in the world. Hydrogen can be produced using biogas, or through electrolysis that uses electricity generated by solar or wind power. Relying on such sourcing alternatives will help keep CO2 emissions low from the entire hydrogen fuel operation in the transport sector.

Sustainable Shipping

One kilogram of hydrogen has the same energy density as a gallon of diesel.

At the end of the noughts, the European Commission began to direct its policies more actively towards sustainable transport amid growing concerns related to climate change. In the 2008 European Strategic Energy Technology Plan, hydrogen and fuel cells were singled out as the new technologies that would help the transport sector achieve a 60-80% reduction in GHG by the middle of the century.

Because hydrogen fuel cells already exist, and don’t require a huge investment of shipowners to install them in vessels, they are being considered as a fore-runner in the field. William Alan Reinsch, Scholl Chair in International Business estimates that “hydrogen fuel could replace 43 percent of voyages between the United States and China without any changes, and 99 percent of voyages with minor changes to fuel capacity or operations.”

Currently there is already one hydrogen powered ship – the Energy Observer – carrying out a six-year trip around the world. In its virgin voyage, the ship uses solar panels, wind and wave turbines to power the process. Its success coud determine whether the method could prove efficient and effective for various ocean voyages.

Challenges to Hydrogen

It wouldn’t be prudent to assume that hydrogen was the faultless solution that would eliminate all GHG within the shipping industry – as it has some challenges and complications. Hydrogen gas is extremely flammable, and its chemical properties mean that it can burn at both low and high concentrations when combined with oxygen in an uncontrolled reaction. Shipowners need to make sure that important safety measures are in place to lower the risk of such explosions during their transport and storage.

An added complication that would need to be addressed is that the element (even in its liquid form) is very energy dense. This means that the fuel cells themselves take up more volume on larger vessels – potentially lowering the profitability of the voyages themselves for ship owners (with diminished cargo spaces on the vessels themselves).

Finally, the cost of the type of hydrogen sources is also important to take into account. Hydrogen Fuel Cells use so-called “Green Hydrogen” (there are three types – Gray, Blue and Green, with Green being touted as the most ecologically sourced) – which currently is the most expensive hydrogen available on the market. For the shipping industry to be truly sustainable, this is the hydrogen type that would need to be used, and therefore its costs would need to be adjusted to make it appealing to the private sector.

A Greener Future

There is no doubt that the path ahead for the shipping industry is difficult and full of unknowns. There is no one-answer-fits-all solution to try to eliminate GHG emission from the oceanic trades. Different solutions are currently being tested and are being developed at astonishing rates. More than one would need to exist for the goals set by the IMO for 2050 to be reached.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells are proving to be very effective and, if embraced by the shipping industry, could prove integral towards the goal of zero emissions maritime transport. Even though no giant vessels have embraced the technology, smaller ferries and ships have begun operating in the USA, France, Norway and Belgium. Moreover, “oil major Royal Dutch Shell has invested in several hydrogen production projects in Europe and China, arguing that hydrogen is “advantaged over other potential zero-emissions fuels for shipping,” as attested by William Alan Reinsch – a huge sign that even the traditional fuel sourcing companies are coming on board.

There is still a long road ahead, but with the continuous innovations from scientists and financial contributions from big players in the industry, the goal of achieving global net zero emissions by 2050 could, perhaps, be attainable. Hydrogen fuel cells could be responsible for a significant step in that direction.

Sources

Sustainability

Sustainability of transport and logistics in the Mediterranean

Written by Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea

Written by Eduard Rodés, Director of the Escola Europea

The concept of sustainability, although open to many interpretations, can be understood as based on two elements. The first is the transport network, which is, at European level, fundamentally structured by the work carried out in recent years by the European Commission (EC) on the Trans-European Transportation Network (TEN-T) and which necessarily conditions that of its neighbouring countries, and therefore by extension Mediterranean countries. The transport network is one of the three networks that are essential for economic and social development. The second element is made of the energy and telecommunications networks, which are elements of the digitalisation process. The transport network is dependent on the other two, both in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

The efforts to advance the concept of sustainability are based on the approval by the United Nations (UN) Assembly of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015, structured by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Sustainable development cannot be understood without simultaneously taking into account the interrelationship between the different goals. Spending more time trying to scrutinise the aspects related to Goal 13 on climate change, or Goal 9, which deals with industry, innovation and infrastructure in this article would not be wise, as they depend to a broad extent on the other 15 goals and their mutual interactions to reach the targets. It is most likely that the problem to solve is not pollution or sustainability but the consequences we are facing from our actions in the past two centuries. The underlying problem is our way of life and the habits we have acquired. This is where the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our societies to look at themselves in the mirror. It can now be understood that another way of organising our societies is possible and that everything is more ephemeral and fragile than previously thought.

Sustainability has become one of the critical factors in shaping the policies of all countries. The United Nations, with its Agenda 2030 initiative, and the European Union (EU) with the Green Deal, has set the course for a low-carbon society in 2050. The COVID-19 has further strengthened the need to carry out this sustainability revolution. The road ahead will not be easy and will inevitably lead to drastic changes in the configuration of the transport and logistics sector.

A World in Transition

COVID-19 appeared in the middle of a period of strong transition. Time will tell if there is a change of cycle, leaving behind the silicon and information period, and moved towards robotics, artificial intelligence, and simulation models in virtual environments. Now, the systems we are developing are prepared to aggregate much more data than we have ever had. The programmes can analyse it and simulate scenarios on which to base decisions, much more accurately than those we would have been able to make without their help. This transition is taking place in the three networks previously identified (transport, energy and telecommunications) and as a result of their evolution.

The Energy Transition

The Mediterranean, like the rest of the world, faces the need to seek out renewable energy sources. The consumption of hydrocarbons and energy produced with fossil fuels is reaching the end of the cycle. Governments face the need to seek alternatives that will maintain economic activity while reducing the environmental impact of emissions. Energy efficiency and the progressive penetration of renewable energies must enable economic reactivation in the short term and, at the same time, allow for the consolidation of the value chain associated with their deployment. They are also the pillars of decarbonisation, which gives a boost to the rest of the sectors while improving business and industrial competitiveness through a downward price path.

The energy transition also promotes the implementation and development of new technologies, which are fundamental for managing the demand for electricity and the supply of security in a 100% renewable system, in an industry segment in which the Mediterranean has the potential to acquire leading positions.

The development of hybrid plants allows for more flexibility. Different types of technologies can coexist in the same system, which can already be seen, for example, in wind power plants utilising solar panels. In such cases, the energy can be distributed using the same connection point and the access capacity already granted, provided that the technical requirements are met.

According to the Observatoire Méditerranéen de l’Energie (OME), “it is estimated that energy demand per capita will increase by 62% in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries by 2040 (using 2018 as the reference year). The Mediterranean region is also experiencing intense industrialisation and growth in tourism, putting additional pressure on available energy resources” (UfM, 2019).

These regional challenges, if adequately addressed, can be turned into business opportunities that can contribute to a sustainable energy transition. The Mediterranean is rich in renewable energy sources, such as wind, sun and water. Therefore, it has the potential to promote the transition to more sustainable and low-carbon energy systems. There is also the potential to increase energy efficiency through the development of new technologies that allow, for example, energy-saving and storage. Moreover, the development of gas and energy transmission interconnections will lead to the progressive integration of energy markets in the region, which is an opportunity for countries to better address the energy security challenges.

The problem is addressed from various perspectives depending on the “community” from which it is analysed. The most visible today is the city, which is currently undergoing a process of significant changes due to the evolution of distribution caused by the rapid growth of e-commerce (further accelerated by the COVID-19).

Ports have initiated determined shifts towards an energy transition in their territories. This has led to the emergence of professions such as officers in charge of the energy transition. The working programmes go through the different elements that make up energy consumption and their sources of production.

The first issue is a legislative framework that has been developed to force the transition while maintaining a certain rate of deployment. A second point relates to savings and efficiency policies, as these are aspects that can be applied immediately and with excellent results if used correctly. A third issue relates to energy sources, and significant changes have already been made in recent years in this regard. Gas has played a leading role in the last ten years, and during this period gas-powered ships have been built, supply systems for trucks have been developed, and some tests with port machinery have been established.

One of the critical aspects that condition the implementation process of low-sulphur fuels with low CO2 emissions is the possibility of the Mediterranean being declared an Emission Control Area (ECA). This is one of the most rapidly changing scenarios for the future. The Mediterranean will be an ECA area no later than 2024, as decided at the meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP21) held in December 2019 in Naples. The agreement will lead to the presentation of the proposal at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2022.

This is a significant challenge for the shipping companies, which have been working on the emission reduction aspects for years. In 2018, the IMO adopted Resolution 304(72) on the initial strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships, which set a reduction of 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050. The lifespan of a vessel is approximately 30 years, so times should be calculated taking this into account (IMO, 2018).

Today’s large fuel families are also in transition. Liquefied natural gas is evolving towards biomethane and hydrogen, biodiesel to second and third-generation biofuels, liquid petroleum gas to biogases, and bioethanol to synthetic ones. In all cases, it will be necessary for ships to dedicate more space to storage, as the energy power is lower, and they will need a higher quantity for a result similar to what is attained using traditional fuels.

Maritime transport in the Mediterranean is considered to be “Short Sea Shipping”, which in turn represents 80% of the world’s fleet and one of the main contributors to air quality in port cities. Ports in the Mediterranean are generally located in big cities and operate alongside them, seeking a balance between the advantages of having a port that provides a service and the disadvantages of port-related operations. What is clear is that Short Sea Shipping is configured as a network in the area in which it operates. Ships from the Southern Mediterranean work with the countries of the North and vice versa. Therefore, the regulations that will be implemented will necessarily affect practically all operations. It seems clear that governments will use coercive measures to force a rapid move towards carbon-neutral solutions.

At present in Spain, gas is at the forefront with a prepared infrastructure that will make it possible to reach 2035 without the need to invest in this concept. For operators, it is profitable because they must bear a significant initial investment to adapt their ships. Still, the cost of fuel is more economical, allowing a return on investment in a relatively short time.

In recent months, hydrogen has been gaining ground as an alternative to traditional fuels in maritime transport for several reasons. It is abundant and available everywhere. In a fuel cell, the generated waste is O2 and water. As a fuel, it has zero emissions, is not toxic, is not a greenhouse gas, can be produced from renewable resources, and is a source for other fuels such as e-fuels and blue fuels. We will have to get used to new nomenclatures such as “Green Hydrogen” produced from renewable energies or “Blue Hydrogen” generated from gas, which generates CO2 in the production process that is captured and stored in underground deposits. Hydrogen has the disadvantage of being difficult to store and transport, and involves complementary elements such as ammonium, ethanol and octane. Ammonia stands out as it is a substance that does not contain carbon in its molecule and therefore does not generate CO2 emissions during its decomposition reaction, besides being the second most-produced chemical compound worldwide after sulphuric acid.

Research is currently underway for the subsequent decomposition of ammonia for its use with catalysts. These include graphene, which due to its characteristics could be an ideal candidate. From a Mediterranean point of view, it is clear that energy sources based mainly on solar energy and gas provide a significant competitive advantage, as the changes that are expected to occur are relatively rapid.

The Digital Transition

To understand what is happening in telecommunications systems, it is worth analysing the role that they have played during the pandemic. It is no longer a question of seeing how technology evolves in the field of communications and how it will affect us. It is about realising that society has been re-structured around a different way of making and maintaining relationships, driven at this time by the pandemic, which, we all assume, will remain as a new form of interaction. The pandemic has accelerated the digital transition, thus reconfiguring human and environmental relationships. At the expense of proximity, some interactions have been enhanced and our environmental impact reduced. During this period, a reasonably high level of educational activity has been successfully maintained. International projects have been supported, many people have teleworked, and the reality is that it seems that quite a few will continue to do so, even if only partially, for the foreseeable future (if not forever). Interestingly, none of this would have been possible without a significant development in digitalisation.

Two clear consequences of this pandemic have been the drastic reduction in mobility and the exponential increase in e-commerce and door-to-door sales. All of it was possible, based on a working system supported by telematics and the digitalisation of documentation and associated information. Everything that was being developed in the world of transport has accelerated rapidly, and where before everyone was putting obstacles in the way, now everyone is looking for solutions. If something could be done telematically, it was done, whether it was administrative boards or family meetings. Some changes will be more disruptive, such as the 5G technology that will allow exchanges of information in real time. This is understandable as there will be no latencies in communications. This is linked to the important development of robotic processes.

Another essential aspect linked to the energy network is its management and use. The “Smart Grid” concept is based on a form of efficient electricity management that uses computer technology to optimise the production and distribution of electricity, to better balance supply and demand between producers and consumers, and to improve the security and quality of supply following the requirements of the digital age. Better energy management will make it possible to create energy communities that will self-manage their production and consumption. Initiatives in this direction are being considered in the Port of Barcelona itself, but the idea goes further. This capacity for knowledge and management that a computerised world allows gives rise to different systems of governance, dependence and resilience. Fortunately, it is not a question of technologies that are difficult to access for the countries of the Mediterranean basin, which already have the necessary energy and know-how.

Digitalisation has a fundamental impact on transport. Advances in digital mapping systems, fleet and transportation management and the development of mobility management networks are transforming its landscape. Each transport system has its network. For land transport, the European Commission is working with the “Intelligent Transport System”, which enables an integrated system of information for traffic, safety, efficiency and sustainability. In short, it is working on the efficient management of the transport network based on the mass collection of data and interaction with the vehicles and drivers themselves.

In the maritime world, the Safe Sea Net, the vessel traffic monitoring in EU waters, managed by the “European Maritime Safety Agency”, is gaining importance. Through it, it is possible to monitor the movement of ships in the Mediterranean, which in turn makes it possible to control environmental aspects with the Clean Sea Net service. The European Commission has continued to improve single window systems with a new initiative born at the height of the pandemic, namely the “EU Single Window Environment for Customs”, which aims to facilitate the actions of the various public administrations involved in the clearance of goods entering and leaving the Union.

The ports have entered a period of digitalisation of all their operations and territories. The Internet of things (IoT) has made it easier to have a massive amount of information available, which in turn has made it possible to create a knowledge base on which to support much more efficient management systems. Ships have become sophisticated centres of sensors and data generators, producing and transmitting information from anywhere, often in real time. At the same time, advances in satellite communications are improving connectivity, allowing for massive increases in the volumes of data transferred at an ever-lower cost.

The Transition of the Transport Network

Finally, the transition of the transport network, supported by infrastructure and physical characteristics, and which include ships, trains and trucks, and structured around energy and information, needs to be addressed. When talking about transport in the Mediterranean, we need to discuss what the European Commission defines as the Motorways of the Sea and Short Sea Shipping. The Commission is considering the creation of a single European maritime space and, in a way, a Mediterranean space. For the Commission’s Motorways of the Sea Coordinator, Kurt Bodewig, the second pillar of the three pillars of its strategy stresses the need to ensure smooth maritime transport by improving multimodal connectivity, and thus ensuring better connections to the TEN-T corridors and better links with neighbouring countries (European Commission, 2020). This programme was launched in July 2020. It reflects the principles of the new legislature of the European Parliament adopted in June 2019, and the guidelines set by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the “Green Deal” programme, which is already setting the agenda for all the countries of the Union. It is important to note that the transport sector has been dramatically affected by the measures to contain the pandemic. The continuity of services has been ensured by transport workers under challenging conditions, showing that their role is critical in serving the essential needs of the population. By extension, the transport sector will also be crucial in supporting the post-COVID-19 economic recovery. This will particularly rely on the maritime and port transport sectors, with cruise, ferry and Ro-Pax operators being the most affected.

The sector faces two significant challenges: on the one hand, an evolution towards a concept of mobility as a service, which implies the integral management of information systems and means of transport oriented to the service of mobility; and, on the other, and always under the same principles, synchro modality and the physical Internet. These challenges are two new ways of visualising freight and passenger transport in which digitalisation, and clean energies will play a fundamental role.

Conclusions

The transitions in the energy, telecommunications and transport networks pose a disruptive change in the transport sector. Companies will have to reconfigure their strategies because they will have to change their means to adapt to the new situation, and management systems will be increasingly based on the digitalisation of operations, with artificial intelligence applying to their day-to-day activities. This brings about new opportunities for companies and the entry of new players from different markets. These new players may have competitive advantages over the rest, something that has already been witnessed in other sectors. Mobility will continue to be a fundamental element in development but will be adapted to a new reality that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies will have to reconfigure many of the professional profiles to adapt them to the new reality and to favour the new skills that will be required for a circular economy. These are what we call “Blue Skills”. Training to cope with this transition will be a crucial factor in facilitating that transition.

Energy prices will change very significantly. Solar energy will gain prominence, giving a competitive advantage to countries with deserts, where solar energy performance is very high. This is an excellent advantage for the Southern Mediterranean countries. These price fluctuations will doubtlessly cause instability for a certain period.

Sustainability becomes the driver towards economic recovery. The challenge of building a new sustainable society will mark the agendas and efforts of the post-COVID-19 generation, which is much more open and aware of the challenges that we will have to face.

It is too soon to know how the COVID-19 will affect public transport. It still seems that the pandemic will last for some time, although more hope has emerged with the emergency approvals of the new vaccines in some countries, which should help overcome it. Transport will change, above all, because it already had to change with or without the COVID-19. It will do so with environmentally friendly mobility and be more adapted to serving people and goods thanks to non-polluting fuels and artificial intelligence digitalisation processes. Change is on the Blue Horizon ahead, so let us sail towards it sustainably together.

For more interesting articles, you can head to the CETMO website: 

 

Bibliography and references

 

* Any use or reproduction of the information presented on these articles should be accompanied by a citation of CETMO and IEMed’s intellectual property rights.

Infographic: Why Real-Time Data Matters to the Maritime Industry

Big Data is a field that extracts and analyses data from data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. But why does it matter to the maritime industry? For this month’s #DidYouKnow series we have prepared an infographic that details the main concepts that surround real-time data and maritime transport. 

Curious to know more? These and many other concepts are covered in our Motorways of the Sea course. Contact us to find out what are the upcoming courses this year.

Why real-time data matters to the maritime industry 1/2 Why real-time data matters to the maritime industry 2/2
The Environment

Transport and the Environment

With Coronavirus, it may seem that sustainable transport took a back seat to the more immediate consequences of the health crisis. In reality, however, this is not the case. Ports, shipping companies, freight forwarders, rail operators, and logistic operators all continue to look for solutions to the difficulties caused by the national lockdowns whilst tackling emissions and greenifying transport solutions.

This month we have caught up with one of our own professors – José Francisco Vidal. With the Escola since its founding, José Francisco was the head of the Shortsea Promotion Centre Spain before retiring and continuing to contribute to the field through consulting services. Below you can read his thoughts on the current situation of transport through an environmental lens.

José Francisco Vidal

Written by: José Francisco Vidal

Logistics and transport have proven to be essential services during the current pandemic. By proving their resilience to the supply of basic goods for members society that have been moved to their homes, and characterised by their effectiveness, transport and logistics operators have demonstrated their efficiency and reliability.

But transport must not only be efficient and reliable, it must be sustainable and, to do so, it must take its efforts a step further to care for the environment.

According to EU data, transport in Europe is the second emitter of greenhouse gases, with 24.6% of the total emissions recorded. It is also the second CO2 emitter, with nearly a thrid (29.7%) of the total emissions in the region.

The EU targets for this year, prior to Covid-19, were 20/20/20 – 20% greenhouse gas reduction, 20% increase in renewable energy use (in the case of transport by 10%) and 20% improvement in energy efficiency.

While overall emission reduction targets appear to have been met, individuals in the transport sector are further behind. The situation is even grimmer when looking at air transport.

The targets for the next decade are even more ambitious, reducing greenhouse emissions by 40%, increasing the share of renewable energy by 32%, and improving energy efficiency by 32.5%.

The contribution to these objectives of all segments of transport must undoubtedly be accelerated, not only in order to comply with the EU rules in force, but also for their own competitiveness.

Energy Efficiency

In terms of energy efficiency, new, more aerodynamic and hydrodynamic designs can be expected. These will vary across the means and modes. We can expect to see more efficient engines and more efficient maintenance systems. Using new technologies, especially intelligent transport systems (ITSs), transport operators will be able to improve the energy efficiency of their infrastructures and their vehicles.

In the field of maritime transport, energy efficiency goes through more hydrodynamic hulls, more efficient propellers, fairings and more effective paints.

Clean(er) Air

In terms of reducing emissions, strategies in land transport focus on the use of alternative fuels and the use of hybrid and electric motors. While in urban transport the use of LNG is spreading successfully, in the transport of goods it still faces resistance, caused in part by the lack of adequate supply infrastructures. Instead, urban transport has successfully began using mixtures of synthetic products or new catalysts. Current research also has progressed in the field of the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel, both liquefied and gas-shaped, although sadly its price and high volatility do not appear to place it on the nearby horizon. Closer is the use of biofuels.

The use of hybrid and electric motors has seen advances only in the field of private vehicles. What public policies around freight transport have tried to do instead is to attempt to reduce road transport routes using intermodal systems, which lower environmental impact in combinations of road-rail, road-sea and rail-maritime.

We must not forget to mention here the maintenance of road infrastructures, which plays an important role in energy consumption and therefore contributes to higher or lower emissions.

As far as emission reduction is concerned, the main bet in ports is on the electrification of the docks to supply the energy needed to the ships’ when moored in ports. In navigation the maintenance of fossil fuels requires the use of lighter ones, such as Diesel oil, and for heavier fuels the use of low Sulphur, including the use of filters for exhausting gases, i.e. either fresh water or seawater scrubbers. Hybrid motorizations are also being used.

The use of alternative fuels is already advancing at a safe pace. Re-motorizations such as those undertaken in Spain by Balearia for the use of LNG seem to work well. Other fuels under study and testing are Ethanol, Propane and Biodiesel. Looking ahead, the sights are set on the use of hydrogen, although there are still many doubts to dissolve and a long way to go to make it less dangerous and more competitive.

I finish with the use of new technologies to improve transport performance. Operators have already began using route optimization, improved operating and maintenance systems, etc. and began, using Big Data, Blockchain and IoT to address operability, transparency and sustainability issues. The road ahead for 2020s is tough, but with concentrated efforts from transport professionals, researchers and policy makers, it will be possible to slow climate change. We must all act now! Let us embark on this difficult task together.

Porto di Civitavecchia

The Port Community of Civitavecchia post Covid-19: What’s next?

Marco Muci

Co-written by: Marco Muci, Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Lidia Slawinska

Co-written by: Lidia Slawinska, Consultant for the Escola Europea

The year 2020 is slowly cementing its place in the history books as the year that the world stopped. The health, social and economic consequences of this year will be felt throughout both the developed and developing world well into the middle of the decade. Transport, the backbone of the consumer-driven industry that existed pre-Covid19 is undergoing a major shift. This can be said of both, freight and passenger transport. As we approach the autumn, and the start of our fall courses, we wanted to evaluate the situation in our partner ports. In this post Marco Muci, the Escola’s Country Manager for Italy, took a look at the current situation in the Port of Civitavecchia, and the outlook for its future.

The current crisis triggered by the spread of Covid-19 has caused tremendous consequences for the port of Civitavecchia and, subsequently the city itself;  much more than other ports in Italy. The root cause is quite simple: unlike many other ports that base their economy on the movement of goods, Civitavecchia bases its work mainly on the transport of passengers (both in cruises and ferries). All this was clearly demonstrated by this crisis, in which the total disappearance of tourism resulted in profound crises for shipping agencies, freight forwarders, port companies, guides, NCC companies and bus companies. More than half of the workforce of the port community is currently in layoffs, pending the end of the state of emergency.

To combat the aftermath that will result from this economic downturn, various proposals have been made by the stakeholders involved (by the association of shipping agencies in particular), to try to give a future to the port and its workers. Some of the more noteworthy ones are:

  • Mitigating the liquidity crisis of companies to cover the entire lockdown period at minimum. This is considered to be the fundamental issue to be solved in order to stabilize (and reverse the downward trend in) employment levels and revenue shortfalls of companies;
  • Reducing the burdens on companies by mitigating the tax wedge and introducing tax relief for companies that are committed to maintaining employment levels;

Simplifying the bureaucratic procedures that slow down the fluidity, and sometimes cause blockages, of goods and ultimately aim for a future based on automatized logistics processes and controls;

  • Increase the number of quays servicing container traffic in the immediate aftermath of the crisis whilst the passenger sector remains stagnant, and prepare other quays to take over once tourism is re-established in the coming years.
  • The Association of Shipping Agencies has proposed that, to minimize the consequences of the crisis, the costs related to the unloading / embarkation of goods should be reduced. A decrease in the rates of boarding / disembarkation fees would benefit the process of relaunching the port. Similarly, they have proposed an experimental reduction of the monthly anchorage tax amounts, which would result in a lower cost of the ‘port system’, making the port of Civitavecchia potentially more attractive;
  • A modernization of the existing docks, which would benefit the trades and the companies and improve the movement of goods;
  • The completion of the Simplified Logistics Zone, which would lead the way for a renewed interest in the port, increase the credibility of the port and its logistics system, and have significant effects for the territory through the exemption of VAT and duties for non-EU goods. Promoting Simplified Logistics Zone will attract industrial investment and revitalize international trade.
Port of Civitavecchia

The Port of Civitavecchia

Civitavecchia is now at a crossroads following the tremendous effects that coronavirus has had on the country as whole. Whilst waiting for the much coveted “European Recovery Fund”, which will give a breath of fresh air – so to speak – and a boost to one of the most affected economies in the world, the country can turn to one of the most effective solutions to recover and innovate – education. In 2019 the Escola Europea has opened its Italian headquarters at the premises of the Port Authority of Civitavecchia, investing in the potential of the port and the territory itself. In line with its ideals and goals, the Escola has already launched various projects and is preparing others that are about to begin – all designed to help develop the region. Its flagship – the MOST Italy course for professionals – is now in its sixth consecutive year. The course is an advanced training initiative for professionals that focuses on the Motorways of the Sea, and the promotion of intermodal transport as a base for sustainable transport chains of the future. This year’s edition will take place on board of a Grimaldi Lines Ro-Pax from 10 to 13 October 2020 on a crossing between Civitavecchia and Barcelona. During the training participants will have the opportunity to experience sustainable intermodal maritime logistics and the motorways of the sea first-hand, with ample networking opportunities provided to foster professional relationships that will last once the course is over.

Another project that the Escola has launched last year, which was welcomed by the training institutes and the Municipality itself, is “Formati al Porto”. This initiative, sponsored by key national associations, aims to bring students closer to the Port of Civitavecchia and its port community.  It is exclusively offered to university students, ITS students and those attending the last year of their high schools with study paths related to transport, logistics, circular and international economies. In this context, “Formati al Porto” will help today’s students – future professionals – acquire knowledge of the professions of the logistics sector, with a particular focus on maritime activities and intermodal transport. Ultimately the project will lead to a better technical preparation of the students, which will have an impact on the employability index of the participants.

The Port Network Authorities predict that the ports will be the ones to kickstart the recovery of the Italian economy. In the meantime the Port Authority of Centre-North Tyrrhenian Sea (of which the Port of Civitavecchia is part of) can move from the comprehensive network to the core network, a shift which would guarantee access to new resources and future possibilities to the port that serves as the gateway to the eternal city of Rome.

Final thoughts…

Milton Friedman, an American economist and a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate, once said that “only a crisis – real or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around”. The Italian peninsula was hit very hard by the health emergency, and it is now that we will begin to see whether any real change (societal or industrial) will take place. The Port Authority of the Centre-North Tyrrhenian Sea has a tough and uncertain path ahead – with a potential shift towards freight-focused operations and the investment in infrastructures that would kickstart the economic recovery of the region. The ideas area certainly rampant – with sustainable transport options and innovative solutions to terminal operations available to all. Education is the key to identify and implement many of these changes – and it is in our hands to produce real change and make sure that the tragedy of Covid-19 has some positive outcomes.

Sources

Towards gender equality at sea

Historically, the shipping industry has been dominated by men, and the sea has been deemed a “man’s world”. This pattern can still be witnessed today, with a larger percentage of male workers hired for onboard positions when compared to the low percentage of female employees. In fact, only around 2 percent of the world’s seafarers are women, with the vast majority (94%) employed in the cruise industry. Long months at sea, complemented by hard physical labour have driven this trend and made it difficult for women to join the crews of international tankers, containerships, etc and to balance out gender equality.

Today, there are organisations that work towards the normalization of women in shipping – with the IMO having launched several initiatives. One such initiative was setting the theme for the 2019 World Maritime Day as “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”– and so providing a unique opportunity to raise awareness of gender equality and to give visibility to the contributions of maritime women all over the world. Similarly, since 2015, the European Neighbourhood Instrument has put special focus on gender equality and the economic empowerment of women on both shores of the Mediterranean, and has been working with projects that give light to the incredible work of women in Europe and Africa.  The Union for the Mediterranean itself has dedicated a vast amount of their social and civic work towards the empowerment of women, developing the employability of women in Africa, and WOMED, which aims to prepare the next generation of leaders.

Nevertheless, the shipping industry is not only composed of seafarers– it also comprises a whole network of professionals that design, build and manage on shore operations. Let us take a look at the situation in more detail.

Women at sea

The issue of gender equality in shipping is a very complex one, and has been on the radar of many international organizations for years (with a particular boost following the women’s rights movements that gained momentum in the late 2010s). In 2019, the IMO has tried to push the promotion of women at sea and begun to investigate the roots of any gender-related incidents. The studies have identified instances of sexual assaults and abuse directed at women on board of deep-sea shipping routes – in line with the general trend identified across many other industries following the rise of the #MeToo movement. Nevertheless, this has not been the principal barrier to getting more women to join crews onboard. “At the end of the day, it is all about equality – the work on board of a vessel is physically demanding. Even with the advances in automation, a lot of hard work still has to be done by the crew, and stamina and physical strength are a must! Women at sea should, of course, feel safe and comfortable, and at the same time pull in the same amount of work as the men crew members”, commented Vanessa Bexiga, a maritime engineer and seafarer herself. Routes with more frequent port calls are easier for everyone, as they help diffuse physical and psychological tensions between the crew members, and are more appealing for women seafarers.

Photo of Seafarer Daniela Andrade from the Ecuadorian Coast Guard #MaritimeWomenPhotoShare

Another issue identified by Bexiga is the lack of transparency and publicity visible in the shipping industry, which is the true barrier. Maritime news and developments almost always stay within the maritime sector, and do not transcend the social strata of the broader society. As a result, there is no true reference which can serve as an entry point for women to become interested enough to try to enter the maritime world – something that would need to change to put the profession on the radar of young women contemplating their future employment options.

Cruises are another story – in the last few years Celebrity Cruises in particular has taken on the leadership role in the promotion of women and sea, and began to push for the employment of women at sea. The most famous example is the advancement of Kate McCue to the role of Captain on the bridge of Celebrity Summit in 2015 (you can follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/captainkatemccue/?hl=en). She is now the captain of Celebrity Edge, and has gone down in history as the first American woman (and fifth overall) to have been given the command of a mega cruise ship. Last year Celebrity Cruises became the first company to boast of an all-female officer crew – further helping combat the perception that sea work is a man’s job. Visibility is key in normalizing the role of female seafarers, and to this end, the IMO has started the #MaritimeWomenPhotoShare hashtag – to make women seen both within the maritime community, and in the social media and news reports. You can check out the existing photo bank here: flickr.com/photos/imo-un/sets/72157713420624662/

Achieving complete gender equality is a long process, and it will take small and decisive steps to get there. It is not a sprint, but a marathon, and we are moving in the right direction.

Women on shore

Women on shore is a completely different story – as they are not faced with the same barriers as women on board. The months-long isolation is not a factor, and theoretically barriers shouldn’t exist for women who want to advance in the sector. As with many sectors, however, this is not the case. Women still get overlooked for promotions, and frequently aren’t trusted with positions of higher responsibility. Moreover, having children is a career-ender for a woman at sea, and it also affects the perception of the availability of a woman on shore.

It is not all bleak. Marta Miquel, the Chief Operations Officer at the Escola Europea, has noticed that many companies are realizing that women hold management skills that help enterprises relate better to current social trends, digitalization patterns and human resource management through the use of analytical thinking and pragmatism, with added touches of empathy and social sensibility. Automation in terminals has made it possible for employers to look for soft skills in their new hires – with the ability to speak English being at the top of the desired list – and the high number of female university graduates has made it possible for women to slowly even out the gender imbalance in the sector.  This is supported by the fact that the Escola Europea, a training center specialized in transport and logistics and founded in 2004, has noticed a significant growth in the presence of women in the industry. 50% of registrations for the training courses of the Escola come from female participants, who find themselves in the 18-22-year-old age group.

This balance is not evident in the Escola’s courses organized for executives, where the percentage of women is significantly lower. This could be seen in a positive and negative light, says Miquel: “The good news is that women at a young age are becoming empowered and seduced by this interesting industry. However, the bad news is that they do not get the chance to escalate as quickly as men, or get discouraged when accessing the sector.”

Maritime Associations for Women’s rights:

 

Officer Nkopuyo Abraham – photo by IMO #MaritimeWomenPhotoShare

If you are interested in this topic, take a look at the many different women’s right associations and capacity building programmes that are dedicated towards gender equality. The Women in Maritime Associations has launched a number of them, as listed on the WIMA’s website:

  • The WMU (World Maritime University) Women’s Association (WMUWA) aims to establish a network of past, current and prospective female students by expanding international networks with other organizations worldwide while planning for future growth: http://wmuwa.wmu.se/
  • Pacific Women in Maritime Association (PacWIMA) set up in Fiji in February 2004 and relaunched in Tonga in April 2016. (http://www.pacwima.org)
  • Network of Professional Women in the Maritime and Port Sectors for West and Central Africa launched in Benin in February 2007.
  • Association for Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa region (WOMESA) established in Kenya in December 2007. (http://womesa.org)
  • Women in Maritime Association, Asia (WIMA Asia) established in January 2010 and relaunched in the Philippines in 2015. (https://www.facebook.com/wimaasia/)
  • Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (WiMAC) set up in Jamaica in April 2015. (http://wimacaribbean.com)
  • Arab Women in Maritime Association  (AWIMA) established in Egypt in October 2017 (http://www.arabwima.org/en/home)
  • Red de Mujeres de Autoridades Marítimas de Latinoamérica (Red-MAMLa), established in Chile in December 2017.
  • WISTA, formed in 1974, and connects female executives and decision-makers around the world- https://wistainternational.com/

This article has only touched the tip of the iceberg that is the topic of women in shipping. In the past 5 years a lot of progress has been made to improve the disparity that exists between the two genders. Although more work has to be done, we are going in the correct direction. “It needs to start in schools! I used to go to schools to talk about my experience as a seafarer and present it as an opportunity for young girls. The sea is my life, and I want to share it with young girls and boys alike. Historically it hasn’t been accepted as a profession for women, and this is why we need to educate the youth and normalize it for young girls. It is no longer only a fool’s dream – women are sailing the seas, and show no signs of slowing down,” concludes Bexiga.

Special thanks to Vanessa Bexiga and Marta Miquel for their contributions to this editorial.

Written by

  • Lidia Slawinska

 

Useful links:

#DidYouKnow – Zero emission stays in ports

Smart cities to smart ports. The Escola Europea knows how important it is to include current innovations being piloted, tested and implemented within the transport sector to counter-act climate change in its courses. Our trademark MOST course takes place on board of the Grimaldi Lines vessels Cruise Roma or Cruise Barcelona (depending on the day the courses begin). These vessels have recently undergone tremendous alternations to become the first emission-free vessels in port in the Mediterranean. Antonio Vargas, one of the MOST course regular teachers, explains their importance and relevance to the current legal and political climate within the region:

Sustainability has been the subject of debate in recent years and the awareness of some shipowners on this subject has led them to adopt many measures that in some cases are required by law, but in others arise from the concern to combat pollution generated in ports and its impact on the cities they serve.

Since the implementation of the European regulation applicable to SECA (Sulphur Emission Control Zones) zones for the reduction of emissions from ships sailing in the English Channel, Baltic Sea and North Sea, and particularly from January 2015, shipowners were forced to replace the use of fossil fuels (HSFO or LSFO) by the Marine Diesel Oil (MDO) and alternatives with a maximum permissiveness of 0.5 percent sulphur contents. This resulted in three options:

  1. Opting for the first measure with the consequent 50 percent increase in the cost of fuel;
  2. Providing ships with scrubbers that allow them to clean the ship’s exhaust gases before leaving through one of the chimneys;
  3. Significantly increasing freight rates, if the market were to accept such increases, or, in the worst case scenarios, suspending maritime services (a situation that has occurred in some cases).

In practice option b) has been chosen by the majority of shipowners, both with open cycle scrubbers and closed cycle scrubbers.

A current and demonstrative example of this situation has been the case of the shipping company Finnlines, belonging to the GRIMALDI group that planned its strategy so that all of its fleet would be equipped with scrubbers before January 2015.

“Zero emissions in ports” was the slogan used by the Grimaldi group to demonstrate its environmental commitment. The company equipped the vessels Cruise Roma and Cruise Barcelona with lithium batteries that allow them to consume only electricity during their stays in port, avoiding the use of generators powered by MDO.

Following this policy, 12 RoRo ships are being built in the People’s Republic of China which, with a capacity for 500 semitrailers, in addition to lithium batteries, will be equipped with solar panels, silicone paints, propellers coupled to the rudder, alongside other technological innovations, including scrubbers. These give value to the Grimaldi Green 5th Generation programme, which is being developed by the GRIMALDI group and which will be operational between 2020 and 2022.

The Grimaldi group, through its adhesion to the “SAILS” Charter (Sustainable Actions for Innovative and Low Impact Shipping) has confirmed its commitment to contribute to the protection and improvement of the marine environment, an initiative launched last July (2019) by the French government, with the support of the French Navigation Association. It was the first Italian company to sign the charter.

The company’s green commitment also reaches the terminals, with the installation of solar panels and wind towers, as with the case of the Valencia Terminal Europe which has joined the European project H2PORTS (implementing fuel cells and Hydrogen Technologies in Ports).

As a member of the International Chamber of Shipping the Group agreed to pursue the Global Goal of halving its total CO2 emissions by 2050. Finally, as a founding member of the Clean Shipping Alliance, it has actively committed to provide support in the implementation of new standards emanating from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on sulphur emissions.

To know more about the legislation and the new initiatives regarding environment in transport, check out the latest edition of the MOST Iberia training programme. Sign up!

Written by

  • Antonio Vargas, Grimaldi Lines