Ports and the energy transition TEY_post_Adriana_Reais_Pinto

Due to their location and interface with the sea, ports can play a crucial role in the decarbonisation goals of countries and regions.


Ports and the energy transition

May 4, 2023

Adriana Reais Pinto, international policy expert for energy transition and former advisor to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action of Portugal, talks to The Energy Year about the role ports can play in the energy transition and the hydrogen market.

What role can ports play in exploring industrial and economic opportunities for the energy transition and the hydrogen market?
Most ports have industrial activities linked to the maritime operations, logistics and tourism sectors. Due to their location and primary interface with the sea, ports can play a crucial role in the decarbonisation goals of countries and regions, international logistics and strategic import-export value chains, such as those for green hydrogen and its derivatives.
The port can work as a driver of its own activity and as a link in maritime port clusters, promoting the adoption of low-carbon fuels and sustainable logistics practices. Opportunities and challenges of this repositioning may cover clean energy sources, offshore energy, industry transformation, the sustainable shipping industry and maritime transportation, among others.
I believe that ports have all the necessary conditions to develop an economic ecosystem and promote innovative solutions. They also have the competitive advantage of integrating into the same physical space as mature companies, new and sustainable businesses, renewable energy technology and infrastructure development.
Ports can be a focal point for the development of renewable energy infrastructure and technology. In this regard, other potential opportunities include the fact that ports and their surrounding areas can be good locations to produce green hydrogen if they are close to renewable energy sources. Therefore, ports can act as a hub for hydrogen activities across the whole supply chain from production to consumption.
We must highlight that renewable hydrogen will play a key role in decarbonisation, both as an energy vector and in energy storage. It is especially relevant in those sectors where electrification is not feasible or not cost-efficient such as heavy industry, namely cement and steel, and the chemical sector.
Potential applications of hydrogen through hydrogen hubs extend across the transport, industrial and energy industries. Applications could include the import and export of green hydrogen, ammonia bunkering for ships, implementation of hydrogen fuel cell technology for port equipment or refuelling stations for local transport, such as buses.
Partnerships are essential in supporting the development of a green hydrogen value chain and in harmonising international standards for shipping hydrogen and derivatives. Bilateral relations between countries for maritime trade are a reality, and cooperation between policymakers, port authorities, shipping companies, industry, energy companies and investors will allow for the promotion of the international market of this renewable gas.
Ports can be a key agent for the development of green hydrogen hubs and the export-import value chain. They can accelerate sustainable energy systems, and they contribute actively to decarbonisation while boosting the economy.


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