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What is a green port?

A green port is a port that invests in and encourages environmentally friendly and sustainable operations. These ports adopt green technologies and low and zero carbon fuels for: 

  • Power-intensive terminal equipment 
  • In-port vessel operations 
  • Ship bunkering (refueling) 

Green Port Pioneers

The following are pioneers of large-scale green port initiatives: 

  • Green C Ports Action – European Union – monitoring of emissions to allow changing operations to reduce emissions. 
  • Port of Genoa – Italy – Onshore power to ship using renewables 
  • Port of Hamburg – Germany – Onshore power to ship using LNG 
  • Port of Gothenburg – Sweden – Hydrogen production facility (potential for small vessel fuel)  
  • Port of London – England – Hydrogen Highway – National hydrogen highway network to integrate land, sea, and port 
  • Port of Los Angeles – USA – Adoption of Hydrogen based zero emission onshore equipment  
  • Port of Newcastle – Australia – Plans to become a green energy export hub 
  • Dampier and Port Hedland, Australia – Oceania Marine Energy plans to bring a fleet of the world’s first green bunker vessels to service the world’s largest fleet of iron ore carriers 

The Challenge

Key figures to highlight the magnitude of the challenge we’re facing: 

  • GHG emissions from shipping are equal to the total GHG emissions of Japan (the 6th-highest emitter globally),  
  • A single large iron ore carrier emits as much pollution as 50,000 cars 
  • In East Asia, 24,000 premature deaths are caused by pollution from shipping 
  • Australia’s major ports each emit GHG equivalent to a large island nation 

Shipping also emits large quantities of sulphur and nitrous oxides, which have adverse effects on residential areas close to port. 

Ships moored in a port can account for around 90% of emissions of the port, yet green port initiatives tend to focus on low hanging fruit such as green grid electricity to power land-based machinery, hydrogen powered forklifts, more efficient electric lighting and electric harbour vessels such as tugs.  

The major emission sources, like ships moored alongside and ship voyage emissions, are often ignored.  

Why are these emissions ignored? 

  • The emissions from international shipping is not included in Australia’s emissions tally 
  • The port cannot force the ship owners to act without specific legislation in place 

Solutions for Major Emissions in Ports 

A combination of the following solutions is required to achieve net zero in ports by 2050: 

  • A change in legislation  
  • Emission reduction through zero carbon shore power 
  • Low to zero carbon fuels for ships 

A change in legislation that encourages the use of cleaner fuels and shore power is required. This can be achieved through the implementation of Emission Control Areas (ECA). ECAs are areas where stricter controls are established to minimize airborne emissions from ships. ECAs have been implemented in the USA, Europe and China to address sulphur and nitrogen oxide emissions. These could potentially be extended to CO2 emissions. Legislation could also be introduced to recognize voyage emissions under emission trading funds/emission reduction funds. 

Providing zero carbon shore power (traditionally called cold ironing) has the potential to reduce the emissions in a port by 90%. This process has been used since the 1950s in Europe and the USA. Technology is now commercially available to provide shore power through modular quayside generation using green fuels, such as hydrogen, and through the grid using renewable power.

The cleanest readily available fuel for ships is LNG. The Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) has identified LNG as the key fuel to span the transition to green ammonia and hydrogen. Ports around the world are building LNG refueling capability now. They are preparing for a transition in the future by selecting equipment compatible with both LNG and carbon free fuels. It is expected that the required volumes of carbon free fuels needed to decarbonize shipping will be available by around 2040. To learn more about our green port contributions click here.

EU Fit for 55 Plan 

As part of the EU’s Fit for 55 Plan (55% GHG reduction by 2030), the FuelEU maritime regulation will oblige all vessels above 5,000 gross tonnes that call in at EU ports to reduce emissions by 6% in 2030 and 75% in 2050 compared to a 2020 baseline. From 2030, if these ships do not have an onboard zero-emission power source, they will need to connect to onshore power while moored alongside. This regulation will impact 55% of all ships and which contribute to 90% of shipping emissions. 

There are numerous funds available in Europe, such as the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) program, which provide funds for building shore power infrastructure at European Ports. The program has allocated more than 1.1 million Euros for the preliminary studies and deployment of shore power. 

Fit for 55 Package

The EU has further proposed as part of Fit for 55 that the EU emissions trading scheme be extended to recognize intra-EU voyages, which covers all emissions from voyages fully contained within the EU, and has the impact of recognizing 50% of emissions from each ships voyage beginning or ending outside of the EU and 100% of voyages within the EU. Ship owners/charters will need to purchase offsets based the associated voyage emissions. 

The above legislation will likely prove to be highly effective for the EU and has set a solid precedent for other regions to follow.  

It is strongly recommended that Australia develops ECA’s and mandates shore power in the absence of green fuels at its major ports and extends its emissions reduction fund (ERF) to cover international shipping.