The Port of Barcelona presents a pioneering Air Quality Improvement Plan

The Port of Barcelona has presented its Air Quality Improvement Plan, a pioneering initiative that aims to effectively reduce emissions from port activities. The document, approved by the Port’s Management Board and put to the Table on Air Quality in the Barcelona Conurbation, involves 25 actions rolled out in 53 operations. Port of Barcelona president Sixte Cambra, General Manager José Alberto Carbonell and the organisation’s environment chief Jordi Vila presented the Plan at a press conference. The most representative actions are promoting LNG as an alternative fuel for vessels and for road freight transport, an ambitious policy of discounts for cleaner ships and replacing the Port’s internal fleet with electric vehicles.

“Over the last two decades our Port has led the way on environmental issues and we are firmly committed to continuing in this leading role. We are aware that our responsibility as a public company is to lead the change towards a more sustainable model” said Sixte Cambra.

According to modelling done by Barcelona Regional, port activity is responsible for 7.6% of average annual concentrations of NOx in the city of Barcelona and of 1.5% of particulate matter.

Port General Manager José Alberto Carbonell specified how this contribution is split between the main segments of the Port’s activity. Container ships are responsible for 1.7% of the annual average concentration of NOx in the Catalan capital, with other cargo ships representing 2%, ferries 1.4% and cruise ships 1.2%. As regards particulate matter, the contribution port activity makes to total concentration in the city (estimated at 1.5%) is split into 0.38% for container ships, 0.48% other cargo ships, 0.23% cruise ships and 0.28% ferries, among others.

A port that leads the way in environmental issues

Since 1996, the Port of Barcelona has played a pioneering role in promoting actions to reduce the environmental impact of the activities it performs in the precinct, promoting the use of rail and Short Sea Shipping (SSS), environmental checks on all of the works developed by the Port, creating an air quality monitoring network in the port environment (the first and most complete in the Spanish port system), regulating handling of solid bulk and monitoring the emissions of the various concessions.

The Port of Barcelona’s Air Quality Improvement Plan is part of two more far-reaching plans by the Catalan Government, the Generalitat (2015-2020 Air Quality Improvement Plan for the Metropolitan Region) and Barcelona City Council (2015-2018 Air Quality Improvement Plan for Barcelona). The document proposes a wide range of areas for improvement: reducing emissions from ships, road traffic, terminal machinery, port works and solid bulk; promoting rail transport and Short Sea Shipping; new accesses, sustainable mobility and air quality network.

LNG as a fuel for mobility

Promoting liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative fuel for ships, terminal machinery and trucks is one of the highlights of the plan, as LNG use cuts NOx emissions by 80% and stops particulate and sulphur oxide emissions. In addition, new legislation on greenhouse gas emissions is increasingly restrictive and the maritime industry is turning to LNG as a fuel for powering an increasing number of vessels that will enter into service in the coming years.

This action consists of various operations to promote LNG as an alternative fuel for ships and lorries and aims to provide the Port of Barcelona with LNG supply infrastructure and to develop pilot and demonstration projects. Port infrastructure required to facilitate LNG fuelling for vessels involves installing a flexible cryogenic loading arm at the Enagás terminal to supply LNG to a barge and small boats and adapting a barge to supply LNG to larger vessels. Both initiatives are under way and receive EU funding, since they are part of the CORE LNGas hive project run by the European Union.

Of note among the pilot projects are the addition of an auxiliary gas engine to Balearia’s ferry Abel Matutes and the building of a gas generator on the wharf to replace the auxiliary engines of RORO vessels and providing them with electrical energy from the land side. Test will also be run to convert two straddle-carriers (machines used in the container terminal) from diesel to LNG to analyse performance, efficiency and emission levels. The pilot project will be rolled out at the BEST (Hutchison) terminal and at APM Terminals (formerly TCB), and if the results are satisfactory, the straddle-carrier fleet of both facilities will be renewed progressively.

Discounts for cleaner ships

The policy of environmental discounts on ships’ fees is one of the most innovative aspects of the plan. “The discount applied to port fees is a very important tool, since it is a fundamental instrument for bringing about change in the vessels,” said General Manager José Alberto Carbonell. The problem is that at present the law allows a maximum discount of 5% for environmental reasons on ships’ fees, which is a very small margin for building an ambitious environmental strategy.

“The Port of Barcelona will ask the Ministry to amend the Ports Law in order to implement environmental discounts of up to 40% of ships’ fees, just like the ports of northern Europe (Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp)” added Mr Carbonell. With the new regulations, the Port of Barcelona aims to more effectively attract cleaner ferries, cruise ships and cargo ships.

“Furthermore, for the past six years the Port has also had influence in the various international bodies of which it is a member, urging the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to be more ambitious in regulating vessel emissions,” added President Sixte Cambra.

The complete renewal of the Port’s internal fleet of vehicles, which will be progressively replaced by electrical units, is another of the operations under the organisation’s Air Quality Improvement Plan. The aim is for the fleet to be 100% electric by 2020. This measure will be accompanied by rolling out electrical connection infrastructure to the parking areas, car parks and public spaces of the port precinct. As a public administration, the Port considers it must lead the way in measures which can then be followed by other organisations of the Port Community.

Source: American Journal of Transportation