The Mid Atlantic Summit looks to the future of clean energy in ports

The European Court of Auditors believes that the 1,340 million Horizon 2020 program invested in energy storage technologies are not being deployed in new infrastructures for maritime, air and road transport

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If the European Union wants to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 (compared to 1990), the current capacity for the storage of clean energy will have to be multiplied by six, according to the estimated the European Commission. 79% of emissions are generated by the production and use of energy, mainly, its use in transport means. The trend since 1990 shows an increase in greenhouse gas emissions in international maritime navigation. Currently, it is the transport segment that most pollutes, second only to that of international civil aviation. The energy transition in the maritime industry and the deployment in ports of storage technologies for new fuels for navigation will be one of the topics discussed at the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair and Suplly Summit, the international summit on port services to be held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on April 4 and 5, 2019, organized by Puertos de Las Palmas and the Ports of Las Palmas Foundation.

The Court of Accounts of the EU has published on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 a performance analysis of European financial instruments to support the development and deployment of new energy storage technologies in the market. Its main conclusion is that European investment, channeled mainly through the Horizon 2020 program, is oriented towards existing technologies, and not to disruptive solutions. Between 2014 and 2018, the European Commission has subsidized almost 1,340 million euros for 400 energy storage projects and low mobility in emissions of greenhouse gases. The evidence –the Court of Auditors observes– is that the EU «lags behind its competitors» in the production of new clean energy storage batteries. «There is a risk that the current strategic framework of the EU is not enough for the challenges of the energy transition,» says the auditor. The Mid Atlantic Ship Repair & Supply Summit will dedicate one of its sessions, this Thursday, April 5, 2019, to the new strategies on the reduction of GHG emissions in navigation.

The construction of new hybrid ships and the development of alternative, less polluting fuels, such as liquefied natural gas, show some of the solutions that the naval sector is exploring. Experts from shipping and energy companies will present the state of innovation in fuels and their storage for maritime navigation. The storage of clean energy is one of the main technological challenges linked to the exploitation of renewable sources. On April 5, the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair & Supply Summit will host a specific meeting on new renewable marine energies, sponsored by the Government of the Canary Islands. The development of wind farms on the coast and in the open sea poses storage challenges to which companies and innovation-producing public centers, such as the Canary Island Oceanic Platform (Plocan), are responding with prototypes that seek their own path from the laboratory to the market. In the International Meeting on Renewable Marine Energy, the horizon of this activity and the opportunities it offers to the port services sector will be discussed.

The European Union has set itself the objective of 10% of the energy used in transport being of renewable origin in 2020, and 14% in 2030. In its analysis delivered on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the Court of Auditors of the EU states that «for the transport sector, new sources of renewable energy will bring new challenges of There will be more need for energy storage, both in the global energy mix and in the transport sector». Are the infrastructures of the outermost ports of the European Union in the Mid-Atlantic adapted to deploy storage solutions for new clean fuels? It will be one of the possible issues that will arise in the discussion during the sessions of the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair & Supply Summit.

As shown by the data viewer of the European Environment Agency, GHG emissions in domestic and international maritime navigation have regressed between 2014 and 2016, after a decline between 2007 and 2013. Even so, navigation is not the most polluting transport. Three quarters of the emissions are produced in road transport. The deployment of electricity and new cleaner fuels such as biodiesel, hydrogen and synthetic natural gas in transport meets the obstacle of the state of the technology of storage.

In the European Union, 88% of storage capacity continues to be concentrated in waterfalls. Hydrogen converted to synthetic gas offers promising performance in the propulsion of ships and aircraft. However, it is currently an inefficient fuel, due to its high production cost and the shortage of storage infrastructure. The European Court of Auditors, in its working document published this week, detects seven points of improvement of the European strategy for the deployment of new clean energy storage technologies.

The auditor maintains that the EU needs a more coherent strategy; gain the support of stakeholders (interest groups: industry, consumers, environmental groups); reduce the complexity of the paperwork of financing instruments, specifically, the Horizon 2020 program; remove obstacles in the transit of new technologies, from the laboratory to the market; and develop infrastructures adapted to alternative fuels. If the EU wants to reach the goal of 32% of the penetration of renewable energy in the final consumption of energy, it will have to put the batteries, the Court of Auditors says in its report. Europe has «a deficit in the deployment of research in the market», in the specific field of commercialization of new batteries and energy storage systems.

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