Carbon-neutral port operations at Überseehafen as from 2035

The preliminary planning for the “Sharc” project (Smart Harbor Application Renewable Integration Concept) began back in 2018 and attention has now moved on to more specific details at Überseehafen: a proposal for the future concept for climate-neutral operations at the port is scheduled for completion by spring 2024. Work could subsequently start on setting up the necessary supply infrastructure so that the finishing line will come into sight by 2035. From then on, it is anticipated that operations at Überseehafen will no longer emit any greenhouse gases whatsoever.

But how can this actually be put into practice, what has to be taken into account, what decisions have to be made? These aspects are being investigated in a project entitled “Climate-neutral Überseehafen” that has now entered the crucial phase. bremenports therefore hosted a joint kick-off meeting to which it invited all stakeholders, from the local port and cargo handling companies right through to the terminal and network operators. Things are progressing at high speed and tangible results are expected as early as spring 2024 in the form of a comprehensive concept and design for carbon-free energy supply at Überseehafen. The implementation phase will then begin.

One of the first steps towards achieving that target will be to update and elaborate the energy requirements at the port that were identified in the course of the Sharc project – ideally on the basis of values broken down to the hour to record the consumption of electricity, diesel, oil, gas and other energy carriers at Überseehafen for the year 2022. These data and other parameters will then provide a basis for creating a “digital twin” for Überseehafen, which will enable simulation of the various options for the transition to operations that emit no greenhouse gases. This step is necessary because there is a huge range of different options for energy generation that can be used to achieve the transition, explained Dr Cornelius Anger of Siemens Advanta Consulting, the external project consultants: “Which form of energy – or rather which energy mix – will ultimately prove to be the most sensible solution for a carbon-neutral port will subsequently have to be decided on the basis of the simulation and meetings we will hold with everyone involved. Right now, anything is conceivable – whether biogas, photovoltaic or wind energy, or even industrial heat exchangers that use water from the River Weser to heat buildings at the port.”

Anything but trivial

It was evident right from the kick-off meeting that this task is anything but trivial. Contrary to its predecessor Sharc, this new project will also include the issue of shore power supply for the huge container vessels that call at the port. No minor undertaking, when one considers that supplying power to just one of these ships means providing a “temporary” connection to the port grid that would be enough to supply an average small town with a population of several thousand. One particular challenge is the aspect of mobility at the port: the Sharc project already revealed that mobility – from the straddle carriers to the terminal railway – accounts for roughly 70 per cent of total energy consumption at the port. This will also prove to be a real challenge in the transition process.

“Yes, we still have a long way to go,” confirms Dr Lars Stemmler, who is in charge of the overall project at bremenports. One thing was nevertheless clear, he added: “What we are doing here, together with the cargo handling and port companies, is no longer a mere research project. On completion of the project, we want to see the things we have developed actually put into practice and ultimately create a new energy system for the entire port.” Things are moving at a fast pace: “Firstly, the frightening climate scenarios leave us no other choice and secondly, 2035 is really just the day after tomorrow, when you consider the enormous complexity of this transformation process at Überseehafen. And finally, we do not want to relinquish our role as climate protection pioneers at the port,” concludes Stemmler.



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