The maritime sector reaffirms its commitment to new non-polluting fuels

The path initiated towards decarbonisation has no return. This has been confirmed by public bodies and companies from the maritime sector which participated in the webinar ‘New fuels. The race has already started', recently organized by the Catalan Merchant Navy Captains' Association and the Barcelona School of Nautical Studies.

Posted on 12.22.2020
The key agents to achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal are ships and shipping companies. (DNGVL/HHI)

These public organizations and companies showed in the webinar their commitment to adhere to the international voices that demand the maritime sector a reduction in emissions and the transition to cleaner energies, ratifying that the goal towards sustainability is a path that must be followed by all to make Europe less polluting and more sustainable in the medium term.

Regarding the maritime-port sector, two measures are key. The European Green Deal, which aims to decrease emissions by 50% compared with 1990 levels by 2030 ; and the IMO 2020 regulation of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which obliges ships, since the beginning of 2020, to use more sustainable fuels that contain a maximum of 0.5% sulfur.

Along these lines, the General Director of Infrastructure at Enagás, Claudio Rodríguez, emphasized the impact that the transition to more sustainable fuels will have on ports, since the European Union is focusing on making port facilities carbon neutral. He also recalled that the shipping sector is responsible for 3% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions.

Benito Núñez Quintanilla, General Director of the Merchant Navy, called for the use of technological solutions based on alternative fuels to meet the environmental challenges the sector faces.

Liquefied natural gas, the alternative for shipping companies

Baleària has been a world pioneer in the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in its fleet. Specifically, six of its ships sailed with this fuel in 2019 through the Mediterranean Sea and the Canary Islands. Captain Guillermo Alomar, Baleària's Fleet Director, sustains that the company's plans continue in this direction, since in 2021 there will be nine ships that will sail with LNG.

“With an investment of 380 million, we focus on technologies such as Big Data to improve the efficiency of our ships. We have assumed the United Nations 2030 Agenda as the roadmap that guides our activity in the areas of economic, social and environmental sustainability,” he shared. Despite being a fossil fuel, LNG has allowed Baleària to reduce 30% of CO2 emissions and 85% of NOx generated by its ships.

The key agents to achieve this change are ships and shipping companies and ports must have supply infrastructures for each of these fuels in their facilities

Jorge Dahl, Business Development Manager at DNV GL, on short-term decarbonisation, cited 2030 as the year in which logistics, digitalization and hydrodynamics will achieve greater optimization. Meanwhile, he places 2050 as the horizon to achieve this goal in machinery, specifically in the use of more efficient equipment and systems, and in fuels, and in addition to LNG, he cited others such as hydrogen, wind or nuclear energy.

The ports of Barcelona and Tarragona commit to sustainability

Jordi Vila, Head of Environment at the Port of Barcelona, and Joan M. Basora, Director of Sustainability and development of the Port of Tarragona, highlighted during the specialized webinar the work that both ports are doing to meet sustainability targets.

In Tarragona, the Port Authority presented its new Agenda 2030 Sustainability Plan this year to reduce its environmental impact in the territory and offset CO₂ emissions by 96% by the end of 2021 and by 99% by the end of 2030, through actions such as contracting green energy, the electrification of the cruise ship dock or by installing photovoltaic panels for the use of renewable energy.

“Our sustainability plan aims to mark a decade of ambitious actions to achieve the objectives of economic, environmental and social sustainability. The future of the port as logistics infrastructure involves intermodality that encourages the railway, the use of new green fuels and new renewable energy sources,” Basora  stated.

Jordi Vila spoke of the European Green Pact as the framework "in which ports operate" and emphasized their "key" role to successfully navigate this path. He noted that the key agents to achieve this change are ships and shipping companies and anticipates that in the future several fuels such as biomethane or synthetics will coexist, and warns that ports must be prepared to have the necessary supply infrastructures for each of these fuels. He did not rule out that ports could be capable of producing some of them.

"The Port of Barcelona works in this direction through three pillars: the transition to a new energy model, the reduction of atmospheric pollution, and the decarbonisation of port activity," he explained.

Thus, both public and private agents who participated in the webinar showed the commitment of their respective organizations to meet the objectives set internationally.