An international alliance of 45 companies, knowledge institutes and port authorities, headed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority, has been awarded nearly €25m (US$30m) in EU funding to promote smarter, zero-emission transport in ports.
The consortium will use this grant to execute ten pilot projects and demonstration projects that focus on sustainable and smart logistics in port operations.
The project comes out of a collaboration between the port authorities of Rotterdam, DeltaPort in Germany, HAROPA in France and Sines in Portugal, along with ten research institutes and over 30 companies in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden.
The research project, which is named MAGPIE (sMArt Green Ports as Integrated Efficient multimodal hubs), will run for five years.
While the transport sector is expected to transition to clean power in the coming years, it remains to be seen which types of power will be adopted and for which modes of transport.
Currently, a number of renewable fuels and energy carriers are currently being developed further, including green hydrogen, large electric batteries, ammonia and bio-LNG.
Each fuel has its own advantages and challenges, making some more suitable for certain transport modes than others.
The consortium’s broad, international research programme primarily focuses on aspects in the use of new fuels and energy carriers that have not yet been tested in practice. This includes production, transport, storage, distribution (fuels) and charging (electric power).
Examples include the operation of an electric battery-powered locomotive that uses power from an overhead line for both motive power and for recharging its battery, allowing it to work in areas that lack an overhead line such as marshalling yards.
Other examples include bunkering ammonia as a transport fuel, or electrical power from shore for ships moored offshore to a mooring buoy.
The partners will design and implement several digitalisation and automation solutions in the context of the energy transition and also explore how to encourage companies to raise the sustainability of their logistics processes.
Additionally, the consortium will develop a master plan that sets out how transport in, to and from the ports can be made carbon-free by 2050 – and what needs to be done in this context before 2030 and 2040.
The budget comes from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 green deal programme for research into opportunities to increase the sustainability of logistics operations in sea ports and airports.