ESPO Urges EU to Reach Deal on LNG Bunkering Network

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has called on the Parliament and Council of the European Union to reach an agreement on the Clean Fuel Strategy before the European elections.

The European Parliament and Council are meeting on Wednesday in a so-called “trilogue” on the Clean Fuel Strategy to reach a compromise and find a solution on the outstanding issues. If necessary, another trilogue is foreseen in two weeks time. If an agreement can be found, it can be endorsed by the Parliament before the elections.

ESPO said in a statetment it fully supports the Clean Fuel Strategy proposal as a way to promote and enhance the use of alternative fuels as a means to further improve as much as possible the environmental footprint of the different modes of transport.

This strategy is important because it sets out a plan for Member States and stakeholders to work towards alternative fuels. We hope that this strategy is finalised soon, in view of giving the different stakeholders a clear sign on where to go and allowing them to start or continue working towards that goal. We therefore urge the Parliament and the Council to do everything possible to reach a first reading agreement,” said ESPO’s Secretary-General Isabelle Ryckbost.

Two of the issues under discussion are of importance for seaports: the deadline for the provision of LNG refuelling points in core network ports and the conditions under which shore side electricity has to be provided in ports.

European ports are in favour of the pragmatic approach that is taken by both European  institutions regarding the deployment of LNG refuelling points in core TEN-T ports. The aim here should be the deployment of a sufficient network of LNG refuelling  points taking market realities and distances between ports into account. ESPO said it agrees with the Parliament that it makes sense for such an  LNG refuelling network to be deployed already by 2020 in consistency with the entering into force of the sulphur Directive. It is of outmost importance though that the relevant co-funding possibilities for LNG projects are ensured also after the 2014- 2020 period.

As regards shore side electricity, ESPO considers  a compromise obliging core TEN-T ports to provide shore side electricity wherever there is demand, the costs are not disproportionate to the benefits and there is significant positive impact on the environment, as acceptable for both institutions. The deadline for meeting this obligation is of a lesser importance to ESPO. If, as a result of an assessment it seems that shore side electricity is the most viable solution for the whole or a part of the port, ports should not wait until 2020 or 2025.

Over the last years, and in absence of any regulatory obligation, several European ports have been actively supporting this technology and exploring the possibility of providing shore side electricity in their berths. In some cases, this has lead to successful implementation projects.

At the same time,  shore side electricity must be seen as one of the pillars of a more comprehensive clean fuel strategy and might in that respect not always score as the “best” solution in terms of environmental benefits in all ports or on all berths. Ports must assess the full picture and look at this technology in combination with LNG and other upcoming innovative solutions.

The aim of this Strategy should be to push ports to reflect as soon as possible on their way to enhance the use of cleaner fuels. Shore side electricity is certainly one of the pillars of such a strategy and reflection. If cost-effective and wherever it comes out as the best environmental solution,  it should be installed. But we should not see this technology in isolation. For berths where only LNG fuelled ships are arriving, such a technology is completely redundant. It is also clear that technologies in the field are evolving constantly. We should give ports the possibility to adapt to and invest in those as well,” adds  Isabelle Ryckbost.

Press Release, March 5, 2014; Image: ESPO

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