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A 25-million European project set its sights on greening European ports

A 25-million European project set its sights on greening European ports

The PIONEERS consortium consists of 46 partners coordinated by the Port of Antwerp

An ambitious EU-funded project gathers key stakeholders on a mission to reduce greenhouse (GHG) emissions in ports while keeping their competitiveness. According to a press release, the international consortium consists of 46 partners, coordinated by the Port of Antwerp, Belgium. For five years, they will showcase concrete solutions on how to make ports greener starting at the end of this year.

The PIONEERS consortium includes leading ports, terminal and transport operators, forwarders, knowledge institutes, technology developers, innovators and public entities. Together, they have been granted 25-million euros funding under Horizon 2020, the predecessor of the Horizon Europe framework programme for research and innovation.

19 innovative actions to rethink all aspects of port operations

PIONEERS is set to rethink all aspects of port operations starting from terminal operations, concession agreements, mobility, connectivity, and fuels to models for cooperation and production, storage and use of energy. The acronym stands for Portable Innovation Open Network for Efficiency and Emissions Reductions Solutions.

While applying for European funding, the consortium presented 19 ambitious demonstrator projects in the field of clean energy production and supply, sustainable port design, modal shift and flows optimization, and digital transformation.

The actions that will be implemented for the next five years include:

  • renewable energy generation and deployment of electric, hydrogen and methanol vehicles;
  • building and heating networks retrofit for energy efficiency;
  • implementation of circular economy approaches in infrastructure works;
  • automation;
  • and deployment of digital platforms to promote modal shift and ensure optimised vehicle, vessel and container movements.

The transformation starts from Antwerp

Other than coordinating the project activities, the Port of Antwerp will function as a lighthouse port:  that is, it will host the majority of demonstrators and will show itself as a real-life Green Port. The other participating ports – those of Barcelona (ES), Constanta (RO) and Venlo (NL), will help make the innovations transferable into other contexts and locations and will themselves implement the best practices from the project.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the Port of Antwerp expressed his view that to become a carbon-neutral port by the mid-century, a wide partnership and dialogue among stakeholders must take place. He commented on the occasion that: "Port of Antwerp aims to be the first world port that reconciles economy, people and climate. In order to be climate-neutral by 2050, we need to act now. PIONEERS proves how ambitious Port of Antwerp is in pioneering together with a wide stakeholder network to achieve our goal."

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