Maritime companies around the world are multiplying
their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere
from their operations. The largest container terminal in the Baltic
Sea, the Baltic Hub in Gdańsk, also follows this trend.
Shipping, which accounts for the bulk of world trade and transport, has set itself the task of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and eventually even zeroing them. Shipyards and designers are outdoing each other in inventing and commercializing newer and newer solutions to make ships emission-free or at least more energy-efficient. Shipowners around the world are trying to modernize or replace their fleet. New pro-environmental investments are also becoming the share of ports and sea terminals. Baltic Hub, the largest container terminal in the Baltic Sea, has been implementing projects to reduce its environmental impact for a long time.
– As an organization, we have corporate emission reduction targets. By 2030, we intend to reduce emissions by 50% compared to 2019, and we intend to be zero-emission in 2050 – explains Dominika Milion, director of sustainable development at Baltic Hub. As she says, the actions taken in the terminal are divided into several groups.
It all starts with the smallest things, such as giving up buying single-use plastic items or installing bee hives on the roof of an administration building. Baltic Hub also organizes campaigns involving employees, during which it promotes activities for the environment by jointly collecting electro-waste or cleaning up the world. Other events of this kind include, for example, upcycling campaigns, in which the Baltic Hub, among others, uses banners to create new backpacks or bags. Compensation for protected species of birds during their breeding season is also important.
The most technologically spectacular, however, are investments in infrastructure and superstructure.
– As part of its climate and environmental protection activities, Baltic Hub is looking for new technologies to replace conventional fuels used in terminal equipment. This applies to both our tractors, vehicles working on the yard, as well as overhead cranes – says Dominika Milion.
At the moment, a large part of the cranes in the Baltic Hub is already working thanks to electric motors. However, there are still devices that use diesel. Dominika Milion announces that they will be systematically modernized and will receive hybrid power to start reducing emissions before solutions that can completely eliminate them appear on the market. Of course, this does not apply to new equipment that will appear in a few years at the T3 terminal under construction – these will be electric from the beginning. What's more, they will also be equipped with photovoltaic panels that will provide the energy necessary for lighting and other functions.
Baltic Hub is also replacing the fleet of passenger vehicles with electric cars. Green-marked Peugeot and Kia cars started driving in terminal squares last year.
– In 2022, we replaced five diesel cars with five low-emission, i.e. electric cars. This has so far allowed us to reduce CO2 emissions by 2 tons – says Patryk Pałkowski, coordinator for the car fleet at the terminal. – We are planning further investments in zero-emission cars, we will gradually replace internal combustion cars. In addition, we have installed the first charging station for electric cars. More points will be built in the future – Pałkowski assures.
Therefore, two electric Peugeots are already operating in the Baltic Hub, which can travel 230-240 km on a single charge. They are used by employees of the Operations Department and the Maintenance Department. Another three Kia cars with a slightly smaller battery but comparable range are shared by administrative departments for field work.
The most important means of transport in the Baltic Hub, which in the near future will also use electricity, are ships. The terminal is already preparing for the implementation of onshore power supply, i.e. the possibility of powering the ship's engines during a berth with energy from shore.
– Ships that come to us do not work on the main engine when they are stationary, so they do not burn heavy fuel, but they do use auxiliary engines, if only so that the vessel has lighting or power supply for refrigerated containers. This is where the emissions come from. There are plans for legal regulations that will ensure that ships will be powered by shore-side electricity when they are at a port, which is aimed at zeroing emissions – says Dominika Milion.
However, for the use of electrical devices to be truly low-emission, green energy is needed.
– We have been buying such green energy for three years, but we have also started its own production. So far, these are small-scale activities, because these are solar and photovoltaic panels that are used to partially power buildings – explains Dominika Milion, director of sustainable development.
Therefore, it is crucial to change the national energy mix, which is to include more and more energy from renewable sources in the coming years. However, the prospects seem positive – the first offshore wind farm is to be launched in 4 years, and there are more onshore wind farms and photovoltaic installations in the country. Everything indicates that when Poland shifts to electricity from renewable sources to a greater extent, the Baltic Hub infrastructure will be ready to use it optimally.