Interview: Port of Amsterdam Striving to Become Future Ready Port
The Port of Amsterdam has embarked on a number of transformation initiatives aimed at preparing for a more sustainable future. Some of them include a new LNG bunkering facility set to become operational in the first half of 2019, as well as energy transition and digitalization.
In 2017, the port authority unveiled EUR 10 million-worth of investments that would be made by 2021 in support of green objectives.
World Maritime News spoke with the representatives of the port to find out what green projects are currently underway in the port and how much progress was made to implement them.
So far, the port has invested EUR 500,000 for preparation of the LNG shore bunker facility, which will be located in the Amerikahaven in Amsterdam. Furthermore, up to EUR 200,000 has been invested in safety calculations and risk assessments to develop a bunker location map for the port with all berths where ship-to-ship LNG bunkering can take place, as explained by Henri van der Weide, policy adviser for safety, security and environment at the Port of Amsterdam.
The floating LNG bunkering pontoon is being developed by Titan LNG, a supplier of LNG to the marine and industrial markets in North West Europe, and the manufacturing consortium comprising Kooiman Marine Group, Marine Services Noord and Cryovat International.
The FlexFueler001 will have the ability to deliver LNG in a range from 30 to 600 cbm per hour and will have two 380 cbm tanks, with the option of adding two more tanks. It is set to become Europe’s first LNG bunkering pontoon.
“LNG-bunker facility, the fixed loading station, and bunker ship will be available in the first and second quarter of 2019 respectively. We are very busy with a project to expand the number of berths for inland shipping and river cruise to a 100% capacity for shore power, and many investments will be done till 2021, which probably will go beyond the mentioned EUR 10 million,” Henri van der Weide said.
“Shore power for the seagoing cruise is still under investigation, depending on many factors like e.g. plans for a new cruise terminal. So in that perspective, at this moment it is not possible to make a decision. However, this option is still considered in our port as a feasible way forward to reduce the cruise ship emissions, so this will be back on the table in the coming years,” Van der Weide added.
The port offers several discounts for environmentally-friendly ships as part of its Clean Shipping Vision for 2030, which targets reduction of shipping emissions by working with the shipping sector.
One of them is the port’s Green Award Discount where ships which have a Green Award get a 6 percent discount, which is applied to the amount calculated on the basis of specific stipulations of this group.
In addition, seagoing vessels registered on the Environmental Ship Index are eligible for the port’s ESI incentive scheme. According to the incentive-model, a ship must have an ESI-score of 20 points and above. If the ESI-score is above or equal to 31 points, an extra bonus will be applied. The height of the incentive is depending on the gross tonnage (GT) of the vessel. For example, vessels with a gross tonnage of up to 3,000 get the lowest discount of EUR 200, while vessels with a GT of 50,001 and up receive EUR 1,400 reward.
Moreover, any cruise liner that berths in the Port of Amsterdam and reports on the emissions that occurred during the time in berth via a form approved by the port’s board will be eligible for an EUR 500 reduction on the sea harbor dues.
Apart from emissions reduction, the port has launched a number of innovative projects in an effort to facilitate energy transition. Earlier this year, the Port of Amsterdam unveiled the construction of a new facility that will convert non-recyclable plastic into fuel for ships.
When it comes to benefits that this plant promises to bring to the port, the port authority aims to tap into the potential of the circular activities of Integrated Green Energy Solutions (IGES), former Bin2Barrel,
“The use of plastic and the lack of a proper processing of plastic cause massive pollution worldwide. Bin2Barrel introduces innovative and badly needed technology that will enable us to make use of a currently non-recyclable flow of waste in a manner that makes perfect sense,” the port authority said.
“By creating a new product from an otherwise problematic waste product, Bin2Barrel fits perfectly within the mission of Port of Amsterdam to facilitate energy transition as well as transition to a circular economy.”
In addition to this project, the Port of Amsterdam has joined forces with Nouryon and Tata Steel to study the feasibility of a large green hydrogen cluster in the Amsterdam region, expected to initially enable a carbon saving of up to 350,000 tons of CO2 per year. The trio considers green hydrogen vital for reaching climate targets and building a more circular economy, for example by combining it with emissions from steel manufacture to make new products.
The Two Ds: Digitalization and Drones
Th port has also been looking into the potential of both aquatic and aerial drones. The innovative solution can deliver numerous benefits when it comes to facilitating inspection operations and cutting costs, however, challenges in their utilization remain, especially when considering the regulatory framework.
“For the Port of Amsterdam, aquatic and aerial drones are a key field of interest in innovation. The application of drones offers not only great advantages for the Port of Amsterdam and the port authority itself, but also for the companies within the port area. Whether we are talking about inspecting large infrastructural objects, scanning small confined spaces such as ship ballast tanks, taking measurements on water and air quality, or assisting in case of calamities, both aerial and aquatic drones promise substantial improvements in terms of efficiency, safety, and sustainability,” Joost Zuidema, project manager at the Port of Amsterdam, said.
“To test and facilitate the use of drones in the port area, the Port of Amsterdam has executed a number of pilots and programs. For aquatic drones, a special testzone in the Moezelhaven, one of our berths, was opened, enabling start-ups and other companies to test their prototypes and drones in a real-life port environment. The port authority has performed pilots with aquatic drones inspecting hard to reach pieces of infrastructure, making 3D models of their surrounding and helping our maintenance department schedule maintenance.”
However, as indicated by Zuidema, the use of aerial drones used to be complicated due to the vicinity of Schiphol Airport, restricting the use of drones within its CTR, which encompasses the entire port area. In the spring of 2018, adjustments to the regulations led to the first approved pilot flight of a drone at a tank terminal within the port.
“As further adjustments to the regulatory framework are expected in the near future, more possibilities are being opened, primarily for our customers who are increasingly aware of the potential upsides of employing drones in their day-to-day operations and are eager to pilot this technology. To help them navigate the landscape of rules, regulations, and involved stakeholders, we share up-to-date information on the usage of aerial drones on our website,” he added.
The port authority is cooperating with governmental bodies such as Rijkswaterstaat, part of the ministry of infrastructure, Waternet and Dutch customs authorities, as well as first response departments in the area, on information sharing in order to enable the full potential of drone deployment. Nevertheless, the key is to do this in an as safe and responsible manner as possible, Zuidema adds.
The port is also pursuing an ambitious digitalization program seeing that the role of data is gaining on importance in the port’s every day operations and the logistics sector overall.
“To help the Port of Amsterdam maintain focus and determine which technologies and developments to pursue, the running projects in the field of digitization within the company are encapsulated within the Roadmap Digital Port. This roadmap focuses on our three core company processes: a nautical process, commercial process, and infrastructural process, and covers both projects that are being deployed in our operations today, as well as developments that will have an impact in the near future, such as blockchain technology,” Zuideam said.
“Data, and in some cases Big data, is at the core of virtually every project on the roadmap, be it in generating new data with the help of sensors and the Internet of things, or finding new ways to analyze existing data to better help decision making processes.”
Initiatives and pilots currently underway include sensors to measure occupancy rates of parking spaces, and a network of sniffers that detect changes in the smell in the port area, to help prevent complaints from neighboring residential areas.
By using data from the port’s onshore power supplies, the port can actively predict the future power consumption of its river cruise vessels, while special software subsequently delivers the needed power from local, sustainable power production facilities.
“Using various data sources, we can historically analyze the traffic in the port, searching for traffic patterns, avoiding congestion, and helping us decide how to optimize the space in the port. Lastly, a key focus area is the sharing of data throughout the logistical chain, for which a number of initiatives have been done or are being done. This helps us and our customers better plan the various steps in the chain, from knowing exactly when a slot in on of our locks is available, to showing ships which berths in the port are available for mooring,” he pointed out.
“With the help of partners and our own customers, we strive to make our port future-proof in the digital age we are in, making sure we can better predict what is going to happen in the future, and to execute our tasks as fast and efficient in the here and now.”
Amsterdam will be home to the world’s largest sea lock from early 2022, allowing the next generation of large vessels to access the port and the North Sea Canal.
The completion of the sea lock at the North Sea Canal entrance in IJmuiden, the Netherlands, was delayed for 27 months, earlier this year. The deadline was moved to the end of January 2022 due to the required technical adjustments to the sea gate, which will need more time to be completed.
“The most important thing is that the North Lock must be able to continue its high level of availability and reliability in the coming years so that ships – in the same way as before – can sail smoothly and safely from the North Sea into the North Sea Canal and vice versa. Of course we are disappointed by this delay but we expect no big consequences while we didn’t book any ships yet at this time of the process. We don’t have to cancel ships. We are open and in business,” the port told World Maritime News.
Looking at the best opportunities for the port’s growth, the port sees great potential in transhipment, but also in transforming existing mode of operating and making money.
“Energy transition and circular economy is our focus. We want to realize that with our existing and new customers. We aim for new and existing cargo flows and earning models. We are a big logistical hub specialised in the storage and transhipment of fuels (also biofuels), agri-bulk (biggest cocoa port of the world), mixed cargo, building materials & recycling,” the port concluded.