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Special edition 2018

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DUAL Ports – On course to sustainable, low carbon regional ports

By Malte Jahn

The INTERREG project DUAL Ports is concerned with the development of innovative ways to reduce the carbon emissions in and around small and medium-sized entrepreneurial ports in the North Sea Region. So far, corresponding initiatives have been limited to major ports. Smaller regional ports have fewer resources and need to be especially creative in planning and implementing comparable initiatives while staying competitive. The role of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) is to develop a combined cost-benefit/carbon footprint tool which helps to evaluate such measures.

The overall project objective is to jointly develop intelligent solutions for sustainable utilities and abilities in maritime / port operations. The project consists of several pilots in several ports/institutions that are implementing/promoting low carbon development in maritime businesses in general, and in particular, around ports. The involved partners are the Port of Oostende (lead partner), Business Vordingborg, Port of Vordingborg, Port of Zwolle, Orkney Islands Council Marine Services, ITM Power, Fair Winds Trust, HWWI and Niedersachsen Ports (Port of Emden).

The main difficulty in developing an evaluation tool is the heterogeneity of the different pilots. The idea behind the tool is to compare a certain low-carbon project to a conventional alternative for that same project.  This helps to identify the benefits of innovative measures more clearly. Technically, there is a further distinction between type I and type II projects. Type I projects only consider the construction or implementation of a measure. Type II projects also consider the operation period after the implementation, allowing for the calculation of a benefit-cost-ratio.

The carbon footprint precisely refers to the carbon emissions from energy use related to the considered measure or activity. Carbon emissions are considered as a negative externality because they lead to (future) economic losses for society due to climate change and these losses are usually not represented in the energy price. By using a monetary estimate of these losses per ton of carbon emitted into the atmosphere, it is possible to define an extended benefit-cost-ratio where the environmental costs are added to the financial costs of the project.

Two pilots have been studied more closely and data was gathered in order to evaluate these projects with the combined cost-benefit/carbon footprint tool. The first project is concerned with replacing the lighting system on a track field in the Port of Emden (type II project). The conventional lighting is replaced by an LED system which saves 80% of the electricity. This leads to corresponding savings in energy costs and carbon emissions. Because the Port of Emden receives all of its electricity from renewable sources, the absolute carbon emissions savings due to the electricity savings are not too pronounced. Still, it can be concluded that replacing conventional light systems by LED is a useful measure in ports because it largely reduces electricity costs carbon emissions at the same time.

The second project which has been evaluated with the developed tool is a port expansion in the Port of Vordingborg (type I project). The innovative element is to use (local) waste materials for filling up the newly created port area. This avoids dumping these materials on landfills, saving environmental externalities. Furthermore, these waste materials are, on average, located a bit closer to the port such that less energy is needed for their transport to the construction site. It turns out that the largest environmental benefit comes from the avoided environmental landfill costs associated with the use of incineration residues which replace sand as construction material. Furthermore, the replacement of sand by waste materials allows for a faster construction of facilities on top of the newly created area, because they require less time to settle.

During the course of the projects, more features were added to the tool such as indirect carbon emissions (of customers) and an assessment of sulfur and nitrogen emissions related to energy use.

Concluding, the combined cost-benefit/carbon footprint developed by the HWWI can help planners to evaluate and optimize their projects regarding financial as well as environmental benefits. It is very flexible in capturing a variety of different projects and can identify particularly useful measures in and around ports to reduce costs and carbon emissions.

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