Tag to make the post appear under the “maritime transport” section of the blog.

Barcelona Port’s Training and Employment Group

Striving for excellence in the War for Talent

Barcelona: a city that needs no introduction.

All around the world, when you say the name Barcelona, you can be certain that the name will be recognised thanks to the tourists it attracts and the economic growth that the city experienced over the past three decades. The port of Barcelona, therefore,  is a historical place as well as a nodal point where business development and connection between ports and companies take place.

Within this node and as a response to the problematic lack of qualified talent in the sector, a unique initiative was born. This initiative – called the Training and Employment Group of the Port of Barcelona – exists today to ensure that the Barcelona Port Community (which helps fuel the city’s growth) can access the skills and training opportunities needed to meet the ever-changing demands of our modern-day industry. It is also the first step in our journey to “Discover the Port.”

The Training and Employment Group

The Training and Employment Group of the Port of Barcelona is an initiative aimed at promoting job creation, training, and professional development in the port community of Barcelona. The group is comprised of various organizations and institutions, including the Barcelona Port Authority, the Generalitat of Catalonia, the City Council of Barcelona, and various industry associations and trade unions.

The main objective of the Training and Employment Group is to ensure that the port community has access to the necessary skills and training required to meet the demands of the industry and to promote job creation and professional development.  The group works to identify the needs of the port community and to develop training programs and initiatives that are tailored to these needs.

Some of the key activities of the Training and Employment Group include organizing training courses, seminars, and workshops on topics such as logistics, customs, and port operations. The group also works to promote apprenticeships and internships within the port community, providing opportunities for individuals to gain practical experience and to develop their skills.

In addition to its training and employment initiatives, the group also works to promote social responsibility and sustainable development within the port community. This includes initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry, as well as promoting environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.

Whom does the Group serve?

The Training and Employment Group exists to support the development and growth of the Port Community of Barcelona. The port community comprises a diverse range of companies and organizations, all working together to ensure the smooth functioning of the port and to support the broader needs of the city.

This Port Community is made up of various stakeholders who form a tightly-knit network of companies and organisations, including the port authority, shipping companies, logistics operators, freight forwarders, and customs agents, among others. Together, they form a collaborative network that works towards the efficient and sustainable operation of the port.

The port community of Barcelona also contributes significantly to the city’s economy, providing employment opportunities for thousands of people and generating significant revenue. According to a report by the Barcelona Port Authority, the port community contributes around €2.5 billion annually to the local economy, with the port itself handling over 67 million tons of cargo each year. It is therefore evident that the human capital operating within this community is indispensable towards the continued success of the Catalan capital.

Who’s who in the Group?

The Training and Employment Group (Grupo de Trabajo de Formación y Empleo) of the Port of Barcelona is made up of various organizations and institutions, including:

  • Barcelona Port Authority: The port authority is responsible for managing and promoting the port of Barcelona, and is one of the key members of the Training and Employment Group;
  • Generalitat of Catalonia: The Generalitat is the government of Catalonia, the autonomous region of Spain where Barcelona is located. It plays a key role in promoting economic development and job creation in the region;
  • City Council of Barcelona: The City Council is responsible for the administration of the city of Barcelona, and plays a key role in promoting economic and social development in the city;
  • Industry associations: Various industry associations are also members of the Training and Employment Group, including the Barcelona Port Community, the Catalan Association of Freight Forwarders, and the Catalan Association of Customs Agents;
  • Trade unions: Trade unions also play a role in the Training and Employment Group, representing the interests of workers in the port community and working to promote job creation and professional development;
  • Educational institutions: Finally, educational institutions such as universities and vocational training centers are also members of the group, providing training and educational programmes to support the professional development of individuals in the port community.

Who are the Stakeholders? The players and the roles they play

There are several kinds of companies that exist within the port community of Barcelona, each playing a critical role in its overall functioning. These include shipping lines, freight forwarders, terminal operators, customs agents, and logistics companies:

  • Shipping lines are responsible for transporting goods from one place to another;
  • Freight forwarders handle the transportation of goods from one point to another;
  • Terminal operators provide the infrastructure necessary for the handling of cargo at the port, such as cranes, storage facilities, and other equipment;
  • Customs agents are responsible for ensuring that goods entering or leaving the port are compliant with relevant regulations and requirements;
  • Logistics companies manage the movement of goods from the port to their final destination.

All these companies work together to ensure that the port operates efficiently and effectively, handling a large volume of cargo and facilitating international trade. Through the training initiatives and employment opportunities offered by the Group, these actors can ensure that their employees are continuously nourished and supported in their professional development and have the necessary skills and tools to stay on top of the rapidly-changing trends in the modern industry.

Final thoughts

Overall, the Training and Employment Group of the Port of Barcelona is a key player in promoting job creation and professional development within the port community of Barcelona. By providing access to training and skills development opportunities, the group is helping to ensure that the port community remains competitive and able to meet the demands of the industry, while also promoting social responsibility and sustainable development.

There is no doubt that the port community of Barcelona is a critical component of the city’s economy and society, comprising a diverse range of companies and organizations working together to ensure the efficient functioning of the port and the broader needs of the city. By collaborating closely and leveraging their expertise and resources, the Training and Employment Group is playing a key role in supporting the port’s (and by extension the city’s) growth and development and will continue to do so in the years to come.

More reading:

Back to Basics: Port Terminals

Normally, it is easy to think about a particular port as one, indivisible entity. However ports themselves have a number of actors that comprise the overall port community. Just like pieces of a puzzle, port terminals are the different parts that make up a port. In this article we take a closer look at port terminals, looking at the kinds of port terminals that exist and at their corresponding characteristics.

What are Port Terminals?

“Ports are harbour areas in which marine terminal facilities are transferring cargo and passengers between ships and land transportation” by Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue and Dr. Theo Notteboom

Essentially, ports are areas where land and sea merge and where cargo ships and vessels dock to load and unload cargo, fuel and passengers. To facilitate this, ports are hosts to terminals. Depending on the size, they can have one terminal or several. These terminals, in turn, are specialised in the handling of the different types of cargo.

Terminals can be divided into three major categories:

  1. General Cargo (unitized cargo)
  2. Bulk Cargo (loose cargo)
  3. Passengers (passengers and vehicles)

Furthermore, within this division of categories of port terminals, more divisions can be identified, each serving a different purpose and classified by the type of traffic or cargo that is processed.

Divided by types of cargo these are:

Diving deeper, we can take a closer look at how these types of terminals operate.  Let’s take a closer look at these terminal types.

  1. Container terminals

Perhaps the most easily recognised terminals in (cargo) ports are ones that can process containers. These terminals are designed to handle the large containers that are used to transport goods across the world. They have cranes and other handling equipment to move containers from ships to trucks or trains for further transportation.

  1. Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) terminals

As its name indicates, these terminals are used for vehicles -to roll on and off- like a cars, trucks, and buses that are driven onto ships for transportation. They have ramps or elevators to load and unload vehicles. A modern Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) terminal is a facility designed to handle the loading and unloading of vehicles from ships quickly, efficiently and safely.

  1. Liquid terminals

When talking about liquid terminals we intend those handling liquids such as petroleum, chemicals and liquefied natural gas. For this, they have pipelines and storage tanks for the transfer of liquids from ships to land-based storage facilities.

  1. Dry bulk terminals

For handling dry cargo such as grain, coal, and minerals exist Dry Bulk Terminals. They have storage silos and conveyor systems to move the cargo from ships to storage or onto trucks and trains. These terminals are designed to ensure the safe and efficient handling of these goods, while minimizing the risk of damage or spoilage.

  1. Breakbulk terminals

These terminals exist for the handling of cargo that is too large or too heavy to be shipped in standard shipping containers. This type of cargo includes heavy machinery, steel, and lumber that is not packaged in containers, oversized equipment, etc. They have cranes and other handling equipment to move the cargo from ships to trucks or trains. Modern breakbulk terminals use technology to streamline the handling of cargo and minimize the risk of damage or loss, while also incorporating environmentally sustainable practices

  1. Passenger terminals

 Designed to handle the boarding and disembarking of passengers on cruise ships and ferries, they tend to  include amenities such as baggage storage, restaurants, and shopping areas for tourists. Modern passenger terminals are designed to provide a comfortable and efficient experience for passengers, while also ensuring the safety and security of people on board and their belongings, while also incorporating environmentally sustainable practices.

Conclusion

To summarise then it can be said that the type of terminal found in a port depends on the types of cargo and vessels that frequent the port. Some terminals specialize in handling specific goods, such as containers or liquids, while others are equipped to handle dangerous goods. Each terminal has its own unique features and facilities to handle specific types of cargo efficiently and safely. What determines the number of terminals in a port is the size of the traffic that frequents it – busier ports with better connections tend to be hosts to more terminals than smaller enclaves. Nevertheless all of them depend on the efficient management of said terminals and their successful operation is connected to the successful network within the existing port community.

If you are interested to know more, or if you’d like to witness port operations to a vessel or to goods, get in touch and check out our upcoming annual summer school on port operations.

Sources:

Smart logistics concept

Back to basics: What is a Smart Port?

This year at the Escola we thought that we would go back to some basic (but modern) concepts connected to intermodal transport. With the series that we are calling #BackToBasics, we will begin explaining some concepts that are central to the transport sector today, but which can be confusing to some. We will kick-start our series with the concept of a “Smart Port.”

Daily Logistik: Asian Development Bank describes a smart port as a port that ensures “no waste of space, time, money and natural resources.”

What is a Smart Port?

 The inclusion of the word “smart” in the name implies the capabilities of the port and the integrated workflow (Marine Insight).  So what is it exactly? A smart port is a modern port that uses advanced technology and digital systems to improve the efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness of its operations. Smart ports often use digital tools such as sensors, data analytics, augmented reality, big data, digital twins and automation to optimize the movement of cargo, reduce waste and emissions, and provide better services to stakeholders (which include shipping companies, customs authorities, and local communities). Smart ports may also include features such as renewable energy sources, electric charging stations (Onshore Power Supply), and smart infrastructure for logistics and transportation

“The goal of a smart port is to enable a more efficient, sustainable, and profitable port ecosystem that can support economic growth and regional development.”

What are Smart Port’s Digital Tools ?

Smart ports are classified as “smart” because they use a variety of digital tools to optimise their operations. These include:

  1. Sensors: Smart ports often use sensors to monitor various aspects of their operations, such as cargo movement, traffic flow, environmental conditions, and security. These sensors can provide real-time data that can be used to optimize operations and improve decision-making.
  2. Data analytics: Smart ports use data analytics to process and analyse the data collected from sensors and other sources, such as shipping manifests and customs declarations. This data can be used to identify trends, patterns, and opportunities for improvement.
  3. Automation: Smart ports may use automation technologies such as robots, drones, and self-driving vehicles to improve the efficiency and accuracy of certain tasks, such as cargo handling and inspection.
  4. Digital platforms: Smart ports may use digital platforms, such as cloud computing, blockchain, digital twins and internet of things (IoT) technologies, to connect various stakeholders and enable more efficient and transparent communication and collaboration.
  5. Clean technologies: Smart ports can incentivize the use of cleaner technologies, such as electric vehicles and renewable energy sources, to reduce the environmental impact of port operations.
  6. Energy efficiency measures: Smart ports can implement energy efficiency measures, such as LED lighting and energy-efficient systems, to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Why? For cleaner, greener ports

The use of digital tools helps smart ports reduce costs, improve service quality, and increase agility and responsiveness to market demands. There is no doubt about it. However, another characteristic of a smart port is its emphasis on sustainable operations and the creation of a greener port.

Below you can find some elements that help characterise a smart port that as “green”:

  1. Promoting recycling and waste reduction: Smart ports can implement recycling programs and encourage the use of reusable containers and packaging materials to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency.
  2. The use of renewable energy: Smart ports can use a variety of renewable energy sources to power their operations, including
    1. Solar power: Smart ports can install solar panels on rooftops, car parks, and other suitable areas to generate electricity from the sun.
    2. Wind power: Smart ports can install wind turbines on land or offshore to generate electricity from wind.
    3. Hydroelectric power: Smart ports located near rivers or oceans can use the flow of water to generate electricity through hydroelectric power plants.
    4. Geothermal power: Smart ports can use geothermal energy, which is generated from the Earth’s internal heat, to generate electricity and heat buildings.
    5. Biomass: Smart ports can use biomass, such as wood chips or agricultural waste, to generate electricity through combustion or anaerobic digestion.
  3. The use of electric vehicles: Many ports have begun to use electric vehicles, cranes and container stackers within their terminals to minimise emissions and ensure cleaner air around the port community area. By providing multiple charging points, smart ports make it easier for the port community companies to operate these clean energy vehicles.

Overall, reducing waste and emissions is an important aspect of sustainable port operations and helps smart ports contribute to global efforts to combat climate change and protect the environment.

Sources:

Why are shortsea shipping routes on trend?

In 2021 Shortsea Shipping recorded an 11.7% increase over 2020, and managed to surpass 2019’s figures, when 269 million tons were moved, according to Shortsea data.

The so called ‘Butterfly effect’ that has is origin from the Chinese proverb: “The flapping of a butterfly’s wings can be felt on the other side of the world.” It can be used to illustrate the causes and changes that led to the increase of short sea shipping traffic and routes in the Mediterranean. This led to the need for specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains.

Several factors have influenced this upward trend in short sea shipping, mainly the shortage of truck drivers and the relocation of production from Asia to Africa or even Europe and thus changing the maritime trade routes.

Why this?

Shortage of truck drivers

One of the factors responsible relies on the global shortage of truck drivers, specifically, 2.6 million jobs were left unfilled worldwide in 2021, according to the Driver Shortage Global Report 2022: Summary.

Some of the reasons why truck driver positions are disappearing are: the difficulty finding operational workforce, since the average age for truck drivers is 55 years, in addition to being a profession that requires long periods away from home, which is a hindrance for the younger generations, who are more aware of the need for work-life balance. These reasons are compounded by the lack of female drivers and the lack of training and, therefore, of qualified drivers.

In addition to this, restrictions and problems for supply chain worldwide led to a shift in lower risk production locations, increasing local production.

Supply chain shifts and energetic dependency

China’s zero covid policy have aggravated problems in supply chains worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean, and have had a direct or indirect impact on European industries, which have opted on the recovery of production in Europe and America to the detriment of Asia.

Moreover, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has made clear that the only way to be energy independent is through renewable energies, therefore decarbonizing the transport sector.

Beyond being on trend, the shortsea shipping routes have proven to be the most effective solution to these disruptions, being not only strategic for industries but more sustainable in the short and long term. Facing global supply chain adaptations, energy dependency issues and the urgent need to decarbonize the sector, as well as the need for qualified workforce for intermodal transport, see highway in the Mediterranean are becoming great commercial routes.

Therefore, more and more specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains might be needed because of this changing scenario.

Shortsea Shipping Transport Talent

In a short future scenario companies form the logistics and transportation sector might need more qualified talent capable of managing intermodal transportation logistics chains, as this is the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable option.  Trainings like Most Iberia are top gear and economical options for professionals or companies seeking to specialize its personnel with the latest trends and topics in the sector.

Source: El renacer comercial de las autopistas del mar | Actualidad Económica (elmundo.es)
PORT VIRTUAL LAB_Simulators_training_Escola Europea

Virtualization and simulation at the Escola Europea’s Portvirtuallab.com

The development of advanced computer systems is enabling new ways of interacting and learning via simulators: a trendy learning environment that enhances learners’ experiences.

Some logistics organizations are betting heavily on technology, either to improve their competitiveness in an increasingly digital world, for mimicry with other similar companies in the sector or for fear of being left behind in the new relationship models between operators.

The adoption of simulators and virtual reality for initial and continuing education allows trainees to gain hands-on work experience in a remote, risk-free environment; it enables them to solve problems more effectively, ultimately improving customer experiences. These immersive programs have much broader use, as they can enable participants to develop skills for career advancement.

PORT VIRTUAL LAB_Simulators_training_Escola Europea

Simulators open the door to new possibilities and innovative ways to leverage digital learning solutions, within a larger ecosystem. The virtual simulator creates a digital world in which users can interact, collaborate, practice and solve problems. It is ideal for corporate and collaborative learning, providing learners with the tools they need to succeed while allowing them to manage their own learning experience.

Digital disruption and simulators

Learning moves into what would be neuro-linguistic programming, as the learner experiences the experience as a reality. The learner is in the space and work environment in which we can transfer the knowledge and procedures to successfully perform the operations. It is the closest thing to the realization of an internship in a company. If this is complemented by a teacher who accompanies him/her in the realization of the activities, not directly but by giving support, when necessary, it allows an enriching experience.

The learner’s activity in their virtual work environment and how they access information will help them identify opportunities where their experience can be improved.

From there, it is about enabling the learner to find what they need and when they need it. Rather than prescribing an end-to-end learning journey, as in traditional courses, embrace the chaos. Today’s learners know how and where to find the knowledge they are looking for.

Virtual training opens the door to new possibilities for training at a time when the winds are blowing in favour of innovation. With advances in technology progressing along with a culture that is increasingly accepting of remote learning and other digital initiatives, now is the perfect time to begin formulating a virtual simulator strategy for organizations.

A success story: training for students of the Master’s in International Trade at the University of Barcelona.

 

In the month of May 2022, a course was held for students from the University of Barcelona. A “Practicum” for those who chose to do their master’s final project using the training platform Port Virtual Lab (PVL) developed by the Escola Europea together with the company Click&Cargo. The course achieved spectacular results. Thirty students from 10 different countries in Europe, Africa, America and Asia wanted to take part in this immersive experience of international trade.

 

University of Barcelona_PVL Port Virtual Lab_

 

The goals for the course were:

  • Develop economic analysis skills to better understand international trade as an important and formative element.
  • Promote the presentation of simulated scenarios to participants to develop and refine their knowledge of international logistics and transport operations.
  • Stimulate the responsible and autonomous development of the student so that he/she can acquire fluency in problem-solving and decision-making in the face of unforeseen circumstances, incidents and conflicts produced by the dynamics of the company and its interactions with clients and suppliers.
  • Encourage teamwork and working with remote teams in the conduct of international trade operations.

The course developed theoretical sessions on the following topics:

  • Carrier and logistics operator
  • ERP for carriers
  • Market research
  • Commercial, transport, customs.
  • Contracts and Incoterms
  • Freight list
  • Tariff classification
  • Intermodal transport
  • Dangerous goods
  • Single Administrative Document (SAD)
  • Supply chains.

For the training of these students, the immersive technology facilitated by PVL  was used and allowed to turn around and change the paradigm of hands-on training by implementing a comprehensive training suite using the simulation platform to move the training sessions to a fully virtual environment. The hands-on experience and the instructor remained the same, but by adding a virtual reality layer it was possible to hold the session in a completely digital and risk-free environment. In addition, trainees could participate from anywhere, although this time the training was held at the Escola Europea facilities in Barcelona.

In addition to learning new procedures, participants were able to practice their techniques with simulated companies. Since the software automatically tracks useful metrics so that trainees know exactly what operations they have pending.

 

The final result was comprehensive: hands-on training without having to leave the digital world. The trainees went through the commercial, operations, financial administration and quality modules. They had to interact with teams operating in other countries (in this case simulated) and complete operations from start to finish.

And in the end, they had to submit a report justifying all the operations carried out.

 

Results were satisfactory, and students rated the course with a score of 4.75 out of 5, which is an excellent outcome.

Conclusion: At the intersection of simulated, virtual and reality

 

The reason why learning and training with simulators are so effective is that it offers all the advantages of digital learning (ease, “computerization” and remote collaboration) without any of the previous drawbacks that distinguish virtual from reality.

 

As these two fields begin to blend, it is to be expected that greater training opportunities will emerge, and the Escola Europea wants to be a protagonist in this progress that will allow for the development of more prepared and sustainable logistic-port communities.

 

Eduard Rodés

Director

Escola Europea

 

#DidYouKnow – The increasing threat of cyber attacks on ports

Living in an increasingly digitised world has decreased distances between countries. The world doesn’t seem to be vast anymore – countries in the northern hemisphere can get tropical fruits from the southern hemisphere (and vice versa) at a few days’ notice. Communication between different countries has become instantaneous. The increasing innovations have made our planet seem a lot smaller.

The port sector has also been riding this innovation wave. In the final years of the twentieth century, and in the first decades of the twenty first century, ports have been going through a digital transformation to keep up with any new challenges, optimising their operations and creating new strategies (including automation, RFID tagging, etc). All of this has been centred on the ability to interconnect information technologies and operation technologies, cloud computing, the internet of things, big data, among others.

All this modernisation has come at a price – and digital innovation has given rise to cyber threats and cyber-attacks. This has not left any industries unaffected. Ports, as vital infrastructure points to nation-states – have become frequent targets to both national, international and clandestine attacks. During their own digitalisation efforts, ports need to ensure that cybersecurity stays at the forefront, whilst being considered a facilitator of automation and future developments. The transition into the digital sphere has thus morphed into cybersecurity challenges that ports need to address before realising the complete potential of innovative technologies. This is why we decided to deal with cybersecurity in ports for this month’s #DidYouKnow article.

What kinds of cyber threats exist for ports?

Making sure that ports are safe from cyber threats is critical towards ensuring safe and secure operations of ships both at sea and onshore. This is not a new issue – the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has already adopted various resolutions that aim to minimize (if not eliminate) cyber risks in the maritime industry. For example, under the IMO’s resolution MSC.428(98), port administrations need to ensure that the systems that are in place in their communities appropriately address any risks or security concerns for vessels that may exist in cyberspace. This is because port operations are vital in international and national maritime trade. It is within their boundaries that vessels arrive, load, and unload their cargoes, top up fuel, and carry out other vital information towards the proper functioning of the global supply chain.

In the modern digital world, port cybersecurity must be seen as a top priority for any transport operation

There are many types of cyber risks that can affect ports and their operations. These can be grouped the following 7 categories (which are by no means finite as the digital sphere is a constantly evolving creature).

  • Eavesdropping, interception, hijacking -This group of risks includes, but is not limited to, incidents such as the interception of emissions, sensitive information, network reconnaissance, network traffic manipulation, etc.
  • Nefarious activity & abuse – This group of risks includes, but is not limited to, incidents such as the denial of service, malware, brute force, identity theft, phishing, targeted attacks, abuse and theft of data, manipulation of information, etc.
  • Disaster – These risks can emerge as a result of environmental disasters, natural disasters, etc.
  • Unintentional damage – These can include the use of unreliable sources, erroneous administration of IT/OT systems, information leakage, among others.
  • Failures and Malfunctions – Any information system always has the potential to fail or malfunction. This group of risks includes failures to systems, devices, navigation and communication systems, main supply systems, failure or disruption of service providers, etc.
  • Outages – As information and digital systems depend on the energy grids, these risks include any possible main supply outages, network outages, absence of personnel, loss of support, etc.
  • Physical attacks – perhaps the group most associated with the general term of “cyberattacks”. This category includes fraud, sabotage, vandalism, theft, unauthorised access, terrorism, hacktivism, piracy, coercion, extortion, or corruption

What are the legal frameworks?

IMO Resolutions

Providing worldwide cybersecurity guidance for ports is the International Maritime Organization. Various resolutions have already been passed by the organisation to try to create standards for ports and shipping lines to follow to ensure maximum cyber security and cyber regulatory frameworks that minimise the risks for all parties, including ISO/IEC 27001 and the Guidelines on Cyber Security on Board Ships.

SOLAS

SOLAS – or the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea – is a treaty that has established the minimum safety standards for shipping. It covers requirements for equipment, construction, and the general operation of vessels. It has been adopted by over 150 nation-states. In terms of cyber security, its Chapter IX — Management for the Safe Operation of Ships — requires every shipping line and any person or company that is responsible for a vessel to comply with the International Safety Management Code (ISM). This code has been adapted to include sections on cybersecurity concerns.

ENISA

ENISA is the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity. In 2019 its position was strengthened with the EU Cybersecurity Act, which also defined a general framework for Information, Communication and Technology products, processes, and services. All EU member states need to comply with the ENISA requirements, though there are some that have also adopted their own national initiatives to further shield themselves from cyber risks. This includes the French CIIP law, the German “IT-Grundschutz” and the UL Cyber Security Code of Practices, among others.

 

Conclusions

This #DidYouKnow article is by no means an extensive deep-dive into the world of cyber security – as it is a very broad and complex topic that only specialised cyber professionals could explain. It does offer, nevertheless, a glimpse into the complexity of issues that arose with the digitalisation of our modern world.

Ports are not immune to the cyber risks, no matter how digitised and seemingly prepared they are. Most of such attacks involve people and fragmented system landscapes, and therefore every port community is potentially at risk. The digital divide shouldn’t be ignored – and the fact that the maritime world is central to keeping global supply chains moving and thus is crucial to information exchanges associated with them further highlights the shared nature of cybersecurity risks. Therefore, for the maritime world to function effectively, the management of cyber risks must be carried out properly and shared with all stakeholders, ranging from port authorities, shipping operators, port facilities and terminals, maritime agencies, customs agents and maritime law enforcement agencies. The cyberworld does not have physical borders, and therefore the mitigation of any threats there is trickier.

Cybersecurity in port operations is no easy (nor isolated) feat. It is essential for all partners involved in transport operations to be aware of the risks involved and to learn to take the necessary steps to prevent or stop any potential threats that may develop. This includes following good practices that certain port operators may establish to reach a baseline of cybersecurity. In 2020, the port industry has faced a fourfold increase in cyber attacks against OT systems (a fourfold increase from 2017). Cyber-attacks are unfortunately becoming common. Therefore it is important to note that, at the end of the day, port operations and cybersecurity in the twenty first century are two sides of the same coin.

Intrigued? The Escola Europea is organising a summer school in port operations – with a focus on vessels and goods that are processed through the Port of Barcelona in the month of July. In the course we go over all the aspects of port operations, including the new cyber threats and their mitigation procedures. Check out the programme on our website.

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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

Clean fuels, electrification, water and hydrogen – How are ports handling energy transitions?

Written by Lidia Slawinska

Written by: Lidia Slawinska, Consultant

Over the past few months, a lot of our articles have focused on sustainable solutions in intermodal transport – whether they were connected to port operations, maritime transport or port-railway solutions. Focusing on alternative and clean energy solutions is vital, in particular in light of this summer’s heat waves, floods, and other weather phenomena which are gaining in strength every year. The European Union has recently renewed its dedication to the Green Deal, committing itself to substantially lowering the carbon emissions of the EU by an extremely ambitious 55% by 2030, and to eliminate net emissions by 2050. Taken together, all of this suggests that sustainability needs to take centre stage in all of our transport operations if we are to meet those goals and help protect our Blue planet.

The Escola is committed to promoting sustainable transport and incorporates its principles to all of its courses – and this is why this month we wanted to touch upon one of those. The upcoming course on Energy Transitions in Ports will take place in October of this year, and will aim to raise awareness and provide information to the management and technical staff of port authorities that are part of the MEDPorts Association on specific aspects related to energy transition in ports. However, when we talk about said “energy transition”, what do we mean?

The current climate

According to some scientific estimates (2019: The Atlantic), it is likely that sea levels will rise considerably by the end of this century, therewith putting 14% of the earth’s major ports susceptible to flooding and erosion. This is near-universally explained by the rising global temperatures, which contribute to a faster melting of the ice caps.

Maritime transport currently is responsible for about 80% of freight transported globally (by volume). As such, nearly 3% of CO2 emissions are sent into the atmosphere alone – a percentage that has increased by more than 30% in the last two decades. This characteristic of the current “golden age of oil” has had a detrimental effect on our climate already. Continuing on this same trajectory will increase this number to nearly 17% of all global emissions by the middle of our century – therewith further hastening the rise of the sea levels.

All of this suggest that leading ports need to take action now and adapt their infrastructures to offset any threats that may arise from the rising sea.

Clean fuels

When thinking about the prospect of energy transition in ports, the fuel used by the visiting vessels is central. Ships – whether they are cruises or container-carriers – need to stay in the ports they visit – to load and unload, and to re-supply. This requires the ships to stay powered whilst these operations are taking place, and ports have had to design alternative electrical systems of On-Shore Power Supplies (OPS) to lower their emissions in-port. Many ships have already started to run on new alternative fuels that have considerably smaller carbon footprints – including LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), hydrogen, ammonia and ethanol.

The vessels that operate within a port – the ones transporting the pilots or tugging the larger vessels entering the harbour – would also need to be modified. Some ports have already taken initiative such zero-emission crafts – one example being the Hydrotug boat under construction in the Port of Antwerp.

This transformation of the vessels, which also includes the capacity to be powered by the on-shore electrical or gas-powered systems, would need to be accelerated for the industry to become greener.

Electrification

As hinted in the previous section, electrification is a vital process in the energy transition of ports. Making sure that the modern ports have adequate electric facilities and technologies in place, be it through either OPS, electrified wharfs, or electric ferries or vessels that perform other port operations.

Energy production

Trying to make sure that the energy transition in ports is not a double-edged sword, which then puts increasing pressures on existing power infrastructures in their hinterlands (and therewith continue to leave a significant carbon footprint), ports also need to think about using their vicinities to generate their own power. Turning seawalls into energy producers, or having offshore wind turbines can significantly increase the Gigawatts that the ports will depend on – therewith limiting the strain on the traditional infrastructures. It is vital that ports transform their mindset and develop new technologies that can create electricity from solar power, marine power, or bioenergy. Ports will need to become electricity producers that depend on a multitude of sources to supply their operations, whilst making sure that they are doing so with limited or no emissions to comply with the emerging global regulations.

In fact, some estimates now say that by the middle of this century, industrial ports will have the capacities to generate ten times more than today. This data was presented in the DNV GL’s study on Ports: Green Gateways to Europe. The report also stated that the energy transition methods that many ports are either considering or already implementing could easily account for the increase in port activities – traffic has been consistently increasing as globalisation has driven the economies forward. In order for this to take place consistently, the report recommends 10 specific transitions that would need to take place:

  1. Electrification of port-related activities
  2. Fuel switch for maritime transport
  3. Electrification of industry
  4. Integration of offshore wind
  5. Energy system integration
  6. Hydrogen as a feedstock and energy vector
  7. Phase-out of fossil-fuelled power plants
  8. Carbon capture and storage
  9. New regulations
  10. A circular and bio-based economy

(Source: Offshore Energy)

Final thoughts

Transforming our current energy infrastructure has taken centre stage is both our political and social dimensions. The transport sector has also taken note, and many private and public entities have already taken (sometimes) drastic steps to try to lower the carbon footprint of transport. Ports, in particular, have taken note – knowing that they represent the connection between the sea and the land, and therefore need to lead in the sustainable revolution and guide both land, rail and sea transport operators on the path towards decarbonisation.

Automation and innovative technologies already exist that can help ports become energy-efficient. With new laws and guidelines already in place, including the Paris Climate Agreement, the European Green Deal, and the latest EU 2030 Climate and Energy Framework, the path ahead for ports is doubtlessly difficult and winding, but righteous. Smart Ports and Green Ports are now becoming synonymous with the Ports of Tomorrow. The journey forward is green, and to survive, ports need to make sure that they on it.

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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.

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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.

Container ship in Port

The road towards sustainable port operations

This month, in anticipation of our annual summer school on port operations, we thought we would tackle the topic of sustainable ports, with a break down of practical measures being taken by ports to reach net-zero emissions in the next three decades.

Written by

Written by: Lidia Slawinska, Consultant

In recent years, smart and sustainable have become interchangeable when talking about the future of transport. With the goal of working towards a more connected, intelligent and sustainable world, port authorities and port operators across the globe have been actively working in line with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals which work to improve financial and social inclusion, support humanitarian efforts, facilitate access to education and to health services, and to combat climate change. All partners have agreed that this is necessary to help build a sustainable world for future generations – and actors involved in transport operations have a particularly large part to play.

The IMO has predicted in recent years that maritime transport will continue to increase over the next decades, culminating with a rate 250% higher in 2050 than what we see today. Knowing that maritime transport already contributes nearly 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is evident that the industry needs to change to ensure that the increased rate does not counterbalance any global sustainability efforts.

Ports play a key role in the development and maintenance of efficient and supply chains, and therefore they will also play a key role in their redesigns to make them sustainable in the effort to achieve net zero emissions of shipping operations by 2050. One way that ports have started to do that is to invest in electrification.

Ports as energy hubs

Container operations at the Port of Rotterdam

Container operations at the Port of Rotterdam

The concept of having ports used as energy hubs for the shipping world is an enticing one. Imagining that the infrastructure could serve as a sustainable operation, with electrified terminals, reach stackers, loading cranes, etc., and then knowing that the onshore power supply points could also help maintain low emissions of vessels in port and at sea is very appealing. Digitalisation will be the enabler of this process of bringing electricity closer to the different intermodal transport modes through ports – through electrification processes – and will open doors to new innovative solutions, alternative business strategies and intelligent controls. Connected carries, cargo and people will make sure that transport transactions are transparent, traceable, and trustworthy. Ports can serve as the energy hubs that make all of this possible.

Electrification

Electrification is already spreading through the shipping world. It can be done to ships to make sure that they consume fewer fossil fuels and therefore lower their carbon footprint. Other forms of transport, as well as the supporting infrastructure provided by ports, if electrified, can substantially help increase the sustainability of maritime operations. As an added bonus, electrified ports also emit lower noise pollution, therewith improving their relationships with the neighbouring cities.

Electrification is also inextricably linked to sustainability. As more and more carriers invest in either fully electric or hybrid motors, ports are expected to offer onshore power supply stations, which in turn puts more demand on the creation of relevant infrastructures. As a result, those ports that invest in the innovative infrastructures transform into important nodes with substantial power needs which would need to be taken from a nearby electricity grids. This is because visiting ships, regardless of the duration of their stays in the port, will want to recharge their batteries to make sure that they have enough energy for subsequent transport legs all the while getting energy to support their stays in the ports themselves. As a result, ports will become large electricity consumers, ready to cater for both large and alternating load requirements – all of which will depend on the stability of the electricity supply.

One example of a European port that has successfully incorporated electrification efforts is that of the Port of Tyne in the Northeast of England. Its electrification projects, among other initiatives that helped it win the UK Clean Maritime Operator Award in 2020, have contributed to the cutting of the port’s fossil fuel consumption by 260,000 litres, reducing energy use by 2.3 million kWh and eliminating more than 1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

New technologies moving ports closer to full electrification

Alongside onshore power supply points, there are other technological developments that are helping ports on the path towards full electrification. One such development was recently announced by Hyster Europe, during the TOC Global Showcase. Having spent years working on zero-emission container handling solutions, Hyster’s catalogue of port equipment that utilises lithium-ion batteries and other fuel cell technologies got more extensive. Having partnered up with Capacity Trucks, Hyster is now working on the creation of electric, hydrogen and automation ready terminal tractors. The most interesting part of these developments is the use of hydrogen fuel cells – something that the company has been investing in and working on since 2017.

The Ports of Auckland Ltd is another example of bringing ports closer to the innovative and sustainable solutions of tomorrow. With an impressive goal of reaching zero emissions by 2040, the port operator has incorporated a wide range of solutions including automated straddle carriers and expanding the terminal’s overall annual capacity. Alongside this, the port has invested in fully electric tugboats, built by Damen Shipyards and powered by Echandia’s E-LTO batteries, which can sustain more than 70 tonnes of bollard pull.

Etug at the Ports of Auckland

Credit: Damen Shipyards

More efficient port management

Apart from investing in new technologies to reach their sustainability goals, ports also need to optimise their port processes and operating procedures to improve turnaround time, decrease time spent idling in ports, and therewith improving the overall maritime transport operation. Digitalisation is key in this – as ensuring smooth and reliable digital connectivity between all transport operators can only help make the planning and follow-throughs of any processes more efficient.

5G is already being tested to try to increase the speed of data exchanges between different transport parties, with the Internet of Things, AI, and digital twins set to help increase the overall reliability of port operations, and therewith contribute towards efficient port management models.

Concluding thoughts

It is not a secret that the maritime sector accounts for around 3 percent of the word’s total GHG emissions. As most the world’s transport relies on the maritime route (and the current trend shows the number increasing significantly in the next 3 decades), it is imperative for any actors involved in maritime operations to make sure that fossil fuels are eliminated (to the extent that it is possible) and substituted (or complemented by) renewable alternatives. As maritime transport does not exist without ports, bringing sustainability to them seems like a necessity to help greenify the sector. Electrification and digitalisation are two such steps that ports can take to work towards that goal – and therewith ensure a clean and green supply chain that supports our globalised world.

Sources: