Increasing port awareness of need to cut energy consumption

4 years ago

portawareBoth the Argentine government and private companies are increasingly concerned about how to reduce energy consumption at ports and port terminals, and also how to cushion its environmental impact, local and international experts say.

María Belén Espiñeira, President of WISTA Argentina, the local chapter of the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association, said that WISTA has talked to officials from the Under-Secretariat of Ports and Waterways and the “expressed great interest on the issue.

“They said that although the reduction of energy consumption is still not a fully-installed subject in Argentina, they were happy as after strong efforts they created an Environmental Committee at the Under-Secretariat,” Espiñeira told a forum organized on Friday by WISTA Argentina at the Timón Club with the Support of the Under-Secretariat and the sponsorship, among others, of the General Administration of Ports, the body that runs the port of the City of Buenos Aires.

She said that the meeting with the Under-Secretariat official was held after the agency’s Director Juan Carlos Díaz and its Cabinet Chief Juan Carlos Donato attended the launching of WISTA Argentina two months ago.

“The issue is quite new in Argentina,” Espiñeira said. “It is good to know that there is an increasing awareness among private companies, and that they are taking action.
“We hope that that as from now, there is also action from the public sector to provide guidelines. The government seems to have started taking some action now. Let’s not forget that production and consumption of energy is a private interest due to the economic factors involved, but it is also an issue of general interest because, at the end of the day, what is seriously compromised is the environment, which belongs to all.”


The key speaker at the forum was Professor Jens Froese, of the School of Engineering and Science of the Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany.

“I visited Buenos Aires’ four container terminals, plus those of Zárate and TecPlata and, honestly, I was surprised. I did not expect such a high sensitivity for energy consumption. They are really aware of the situation,” said Froese, a professor of maritime logistics.
He said that the CTA Hamburg terminal could be signaled as an example to follow on the subject and that two Singapore terminals are already building a new terminal based on CTA Hamburg guidelines.

“The lower energy consumption there is, the lower carbon footprint you have,” he said.

Asked about whether he could provide some advice for Argentine ports terminals, he replied: “If fact, there is no general recommendation because it very much depends on the local situation and the terminals and, also, terminals belong to the huge international groups, such as Moeller, PSA, Hutchison, etc., and the decisions are made by the groups, not by the terminals. Recommendations for Spain are completely different from what could be recommended here or in Valparaíso, or San Antonio, or Montevideo. Some may be close, but the recommendations are different.

“However, opportunities to improve the balance of the demand and supply of energy and to reduce energy consumption, exist everywhere.”

His message for ports and terminals was clear: contribute to a better environment by reducing the energy bill. The port industry moves commodities, most stuffed in containers and, hence, needs to consume energy supplied by the electric grid and by combustion of diesel fuel. In a written summary of his WISTA presentation he sent to the Herald, Professor Froese said that the European Commission is currently funding the research project GREEN EFFORTS to minimize energy consumption of ports and terminals.


“You can only manage what you can measure. The first and most important message toward a reduced energy bill is to find out where, when and by which operation the energy is being used.

“The electric energy consumed by a common container terminal can be distributed to reefer containers, i.e. refrigerated containers carrying deep frozen or chilled cargo (40 percent), ship-to-shore cranes (40 percent), terminal lighting (12 percent) and administration buildings and workshops (8 percent).” The diesel consumption can be allocated to stacking operations (68 percent), horizontal transport of boxes by e.g. tractors (30 percent) and other vehicles and equipment operations such as terminal cars and forklifts (2 percent).

The cascade of potential measurements commences with simply operating existing equipment in a more energy-efficient way, then recuperation, sourcing of regenerative energy and sophisticated smart grid applications to optimize the management of energy demand and supply.

Electric recuperation means to get some of the energy back from lowering weights that have been hoisted before by ship-to-shore cranes. Heat recuperation can recover some of the electric energy supplied to cold-stores after its conversion to heat, usually blown into the atmosphere, he said.

Regenerative energy is the current buzzword but its potential is restricted. Photovoltaic panels to produce electric energy from sunlight, while being a mature technology that becomes cheaper every day, still needs space — a sparse asset on container terminals. However, its application is highly recommended wherever it is possible, either on the terminal yard or by exploiting nearby port land. Wind energy produced by generators on high masts, the advanced version of the ancient windmill, in some areas of the world, mostly close to the coast or even offshore, has become a familiar view. Once the wind blows the energy harvest is high, Froese said. However, how to match the timing of energy consuming operations with wind energy supply? The best solution is to buffer, not in batteries, which is possible but expensive, but by timing recharging of equipment batteries according to availability of wind energy. This requires a battery-equipped electric equipment and real-time smart grid management which is currently under development. A spinoff of intelligent demand-supply management of electric energy allows a tailor-made production of energy by the grid supplier allowing to just provide the power needed to avoid black-outs or overproduction that nobody is interested to consume.

The vision of the future container terminal is a fully electric terminal where even the ships berthed shut off their generators to be supplied by clean electric energy from ashore, Froese said.


Ana María Brunet, a WISTA adviser, told the Herald that in the province of Santa Fe — home to one of the largest private port complexes in the world — there is a very large industrial beltwith an average of between 5,000 and 10,000 trucks a day, with roads that “fail to match port demand, something that leads to a sensitive air quality issue.”

Santa Fe ports handle about 70 percent of all grains and oilseeds exported from Argentina.

“There is a public-private venture to install air quality gauges. After we make the measurements we will know what is going on. Until now, we know that there are emissions, but we don’t know how much,” added Brunet, a port and transport expert, an UN’s ECLAC adviser and a member of the Ibero-American Institute of Maritime Law. She added that although the air issue is being addressed, carbon footprint is not yet an issue. “The reduction of port activity emissions is a global challenge. Emissions are produced not just by ships, but from all the terminal activity, mainly regarding the handling of containers. Of course the cost issue is at stake but more work needs to be done on the field of corporate social responsibility, generation and consumption of alternative energy, because on top of the port activity you also have the interface with the shore where many times infrastructure shortcomings lead to the handling of cargo not being as fluid at it could be desired, also leading to high fuel consumption and, as a consequence, to higher than acceptable carbon emissions,” Brunet said.
“Huge firms, when faced with stricter environmental regulations, drag somewhat they feet. However, they finally accept them and report them to their headquarters.”

Source: Buenos Aires Herald