13 Oct 2020

The maritime sector has seen its way through centuries of global change; whether that’s the positive advances of innovation and technology; or periods of turmoil and uncertainty - there has always been a route through the shifting seas. But even for this legacy industry, there have been few moments quite like the one we are in now, where the industry faces significant challenges on at least two fronts – COVID-19 and climate change.

In the face of these testing times, ports are hard at work, often unrecognised, trying to improve their emissions output towards the Net Zero targets set around the world. But different ports face different challenges and constraints – and at Royal HaskoningDHV we understand how difficult the process is and has been for ports.

The good news is that positive, innovative steps are being taken – often in the development of ‘Green Ports’ – which use smart technologies to create greener, more efficient ports. For example, at the Port of Bristol, where they have honed in on their trucking fleet. By monitoring fuel consumption and how trucks are used around the port, they have been able to spot areas where they can be more efficient. 

Elsewhere, the Port of Southampton have welcomed a new high-efficiency vessel that sets a new benchmark in energy efficient, worldwide automotive shipping. The question is how can the road to Net Zero be smoothed further?

Moving from ideas to implementation 

The maritime industry does not lack the ideas or ingenuity to tackle reducing emissions – the centuries-old legacy of innovation and adaptability in the sector speaks to that. But what is often less considered is just how significant, in some cases radical, changes can be implemented whilst also maintaining port operations that are not just functional, but effective and profitable. Ports need support in approaching this dilemma.

The answer, we believe, lies in the Green Ports previously mentioned – pairing these smart technologies with an integrated approach between strategy and implementation, to develop ports that are not just more efficient, but ultimately more cost-effective.

Royal HaskoningDHV lies at a unique intersection, when it comes to implementing this strategy. As an international engineering consultancy, working across multiple sectors, we have experience in port operations and technologies, an extensive record with sustainable and alternative fuels, along with financial and market analysis expertise. All of this has given us a unique insight into the challenges ports face – and how to overcome them.

Green ports – not just an add-on

While there are some differences between nations and regions – the overall endgame is the same around the world - reducing emissions.  Perhaps of equal importance is the requirement to show progress towards those targets along the way. This is difficult for ports when changes to get there can be expensive and must be considered within a wider business plan and strategy.

Our approach to supporting clients and implementing changes is to provide practical guidance and actions that support the transition and help integration into ongoing operations. Our Health Check for Smart & Green Ports, for example, incorporates energy and efficiency alongside land side and marine operations from the get-go. When considered holistically, changes can be integrated into operational efficiency and business strategy to produce benefits across the board.

Does reducing emissions have to be a sunk cost? 

That is a question that has pressed on many industries around the world over the past decade, as climate change has risen on the agenda. The answer is, with the right implementation, strategy, and expertise, investments made can serve a broader purpose that translates into tangible, long term benefits.

At Royal HaskoningDHV, we support clients across technical and strategic roles – helping them plug the gaps in their knowledge or expertise, all in one place: with our in-house expertise spanning multiple industries and disciplines. We have used our global reach and access to innovations, tools and technologies to help clients identify changes they can make – before connecting them with financial institutions and/or national funding opportunities to help make those changes happen.

By following our approach of integrating energy and operational efficiency, we have actually taken ports and companies towards their targets as a by-product of improving their operational efficiencies; and in the same way most changes towards Net Zero have an economic benefit.

For example, by implementing smart lighting, or using port simulation to review operational flows and make changes, you can become more efficient in energy usage and the movement of traffic around the site. The result is less fuel usage, which reduces emissions and costs. 

The outcome of actions like this is a win-win-win scenario, helping ports towards targets while reducing costs and improving operational efficiency.

Reducing emissions isn’t easy – but it’s happening

We can see the work being done by ports around the world to reduce emissions and push towards those Net Zero targets. The impact of COVID-19 has not made the task, or the road ahead any easier, but the work is underway and the momentum in the industry is gathering.

Green ports are the potential culmination of this momentum – ports that run more efficiently and at less cost and lower energy consumption. Technology is making their existence possible today and we’re excited about the chance in the sector to marry strategy with tangible developments and results to support ports in meeting the needs of the future.

Get in touch with us today   Read more about our Health Check

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