With the implementation of its new net zero strategy, which seeks to make Aberdeen the first net zero port in the UK by 2040, Bob Sanguinetti, Chief Executive of the Port of Aberdeen, sees significant prospects for the port. He points out that in order for industy stakeholders to commit to a green transition, decarbonization needs investments in infrastructure, government assistance, and incentives.
ob Sanguinetti emphasizes that the moment to address the challenge of decarbonization is now and urges all parties to ‘take small collective steps’ to cut emissions in accordance with the recently agreed IMO revised strategy. ‘’As a key industry, it is important not to be daunted by the scale of the challenge, and to overcome it together’’, he concludes.
SAFETY4SEA: What are your top priorities in the agenda for the next 5 years?
Bob Sanguinetti: We recently launched our net zero strategy which includes a commitment to become the UK’s first net zero port by 2040, investing £55 million over the next decade to turn our vision into reality. Three workstreams form the foundation of the strategy: reducing emissions from the port, which is important to us for Aberdeen and the local communities; working with partners to provide infrastructure for future low and zero carbon fuels; and to support the region and the country’s wider energy transition efforts. With the strategy now launched, the hard work has begun and we are already making tangible progress to achieve our goal of net zero in 17 years’ time. We have a big challenge ahead of us, but also big opportunities for Port of Aberdeen to play a key part in the overall energy transition.
S4S: What are the key barriers that the maritime industry is currently facing with regards to decarbonisation? What are your suggestions to turn these into opportunities?
B.S.: The largest barrier is the scale of the challenge. The shipping sector is a large multi-national community with a wide range of sub sectors within, and there is no single solution that will deliver net zero. A combination of solutions are required to help the energy transition in the shipping industry, including more government support and incentives to make the path to net zero more attractive and more financially feasible; and incentivising ship owners and operators to transition to new technology. The exact same challenges also apply to the ports. Investment is needed to provide infrastructure, and to deliver the fuels of the future.
S4S: Where does the Port of Aberdeen stand on the way to energy transition towards renewables?
B.S.: The main reason I was attracted to the role at Port of Aberdeen was the key part the port could play in the energy transition. For example, new fuels will likely be trialed on smaller ships on shorter journeys, which is the operating pattern in the North Sea. The Port of Aberdeen is a forward leaning organisation on a path to becoming net zero, and because of our position and close partnerships with the shipping community, energy companies and port operators, we do have an advantage, but we also have a responsibility to be proactive in developing solutions of the future. We are involved in a number of projects with other key players, from the conceptual to the delivery phases of providing low carbon solutions. For example, we are working with Northlink Ferries to provide shore power for the ferries that travel to Shetland and Orkney and are confident we will deliver this in 2024. Working in partnership with the UK Government, we hope to provide these solutions more widely during 2024 – 2025. This will make a huge difference to emissions coming from ships in port over the coming years. We have also made good progress on our plans to reduce emissions from port infrastructure machinery and vehicles, and we have a rolling replacement progress in place and underway.
S4S: What has been the coolest discovery/ development/Innovation you have seen on the sustainability front in the port sector?
B.S.: We are working in partnership with offshore charging company, Stillstrom by Maersk, on a project that would provide electricity to vessels from a buoy sitting outside Port of Aberdeen. The technology will allow offshore vessels to utilise electricity from wind or grid-energy, eliminating the need for fossil fuel consumption, resulting in significantly reduced emissions from vessels that are on standby. Innovative thinking and practices are crucial if we are to achieve a green maritime industry, which is why we are looking forward to working with Stillstrom to develop low carbon power supply and reduce emissions from vessels on standby outside our port. These types of projects will help to make our vision of becoming net zero a reality.
S4S: Do you have any new projects/ plans that you would like to share with industry stakeholders?
B.S.: Our £420 million pound harbour expansion, being the largest marine infrastructure project underway in the country, is due for completion in Q3 2023. The expansion will make Port of Aberdeen Scotland’s largest berthage port, significantly increasing opportunities for existing customers and opening the door to new markets, including the renewable energy sector and cruise. This expansion will see Port of Aberdeen as one of the first green ports in Scotland, playing a key role in the nation’s economic, energy and net zero goals. This, together with over 50 years of experience and strong relationships across the private and public sectors, makes Port of Aberdeen pivotal in the nations’ future.
S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders with regards to a more sustainable future for the shipping industry?
B.S.: The time is now. We know the scale of the challenge and the challenge is too big for any single organisation to tackle on their own. Progress is made when we put aside commercial sensitivities or agendas and collaborate with partners all working towards a common goal. As technologies continue to emerge, we need to take small collective steps to reduce emissions in line with recently agreed International Maritime Organisation (IMO) targets, tackling climate emergencies, individually and collectively. As a key industry, it is important not to be daunted by the scale of the challenge, and to overcome it together.
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.