The Baltic Ports Organization (BPO) board met last week, to discuss the impact of the European Green Deal (EGD) on the port market in Europe and the Baltic Sea region (BSR).
According to the BPO, the ten biggest Baltic ports handled a total of nearly 450m tonnes in 2020. This translates to a drop of 5.6% in comparison to 2019. On the container side of things, the top 10 Baltic container ports registered a total throughput of 8.8m TEUs.
Despite these difficulties, nearly all of the Baltic ports had a very good start into 2021 in terms of cargo. The majority of ports in question noted positive results, with some registering an increase of approx. 10% in the months of January and February in comparison to the same period in 2020.
The board meeting also included a closer look at the impact the EGD had and will continue to have on the port market in the BSR and Europe. It is mainly tied to the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals set by the EU, which foresee eliminating GHG emissions by 2050.
As the BPO said, it is the goal for the European economy to become independent of fossil fuels, including gas, that may have the biggest influence on the future role of the ports. It also adds that as the fossil fuel usage continues to drop in the coming decades, ports will become important logistics and production hubs for renewable energy, such as wind and solar energy. The usage of other alternative fuels in ports, such as bio-gas, hydrogen and ammonia is also set to increase.
Bogdan Ołdakowski, Secretary General, BPO, stated:
The continuous switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will have a decisive impact on the economic structure not only in the EU, but worldwide. It will most certainly affect international trade, especially considering, that the mission to reduce harmful emissions, such as greenhouse gasses, isn’t solely a European one
Therefore, BPO believes that ports can and will play a key supporting role in this transition, since they are directly impacted by emissions from the shipping industry, which in most cases present the main source of air pollution in the port area.
Possible solutions, already being implemented with increasing success in the Baltic, include the development of shore power facilities and a bunkering infrastructure for alternative fuels, which could play an important part in the transition period (LNG). Furthermore, they can become production centers for solar and wind energy, bringing them closer to the role of energy hubs