When the goal of becoming a CO2-neutral port was set in 2010, there was still a long way to go. The annual energy consumption produced CO2 emissions of 1,240 tons in 2010, which primarily came from the consumption of diesel for tugboats, mobile cranes and other vehicles along with a large consumption of electricity for roadway- and local lighting among other things.

Hence, since 2010, a series of both small and big initiatives have been implemented, which has resulted in significant energy savings and reductions in CO2 emissions. However, the investments have not only benefitted the environment; the energy saving investment projects have been handled as individual business cases on similar terms as other investments.

The majority of energy saving initiatives can compete economically with all other types of investments, for which reason it forms a synthesis and underpins our strategy of being Denmark’s intelligent port, Claus Holstein, CEO of the Port of Aalborg Ltd., says.

The journey towards becoming Denmark’s first CO2-neutral port commenced in earnest in 2010, when the Port of Aalborg chose to become certified in accordance with the international standard of environmental management, ISO 14.001. The certification entailed some very ambitious environmental goals, which has been met through a series of concrete initiatives. By doing so, the Port of Aalborg concurrently wished to set a good example for customers and business partners. 

New equipment

The consumption of diesel, electricity and district heating make up the CO2 accounts of the Port of Aalborg, and diesel in particular constitutes the biggest and most difficult item. The diesel consumption has been reduced continuously by replacing vehicles and machines. The latest initiative concerns the installation of three charging stations at the harbour area along with replacing the official car of the guard on duty with an electric car. Meanwhile, the port has intensified its use of surveillance cameras, which reduces the need for driving.

And since the electric car runs on wind and solar energy, it simply does not get more sustainable than that, Brian Dalby Rasmussen, Environmental Compliance Coordinator at the Port of Aalborg Ltd., says.

In 2012, the port’s works office, along with other buildings, was renovated in accordance with the most rigorous standard for energy efficiency, namely the Passive House Standard, which among other things reduced the heat consumption in the building with a total of 85%. 

During the same year, the port initiated its renovation of roadway- and local lighting. A lighting control system was implemented, allowing all workers to control the lighting via their smartphones, while the first light sources at one of the larger harbour areas of 45,000 square meters were replaced with energy efficient LED-lighting. Since then, the vast majority of the lighting plants at the Port of Aalborg have been renovated systematically and given LED lighting.

In 2014, the port’s four large mobile cranes were replaced with three new cranes. These cranes have a significantly lower consumption of electricity and diesel, and the capacity is now appropriately adjusted in accordance with the current work tasks. Despite a significant growth in cranage tasks in 2016, the total energy consumption is actually lower than before.

Another milestone was achieved in 2015, as the freight terminal at the Port of Aalborg was renovated and reinstated. The freight terminal replaces the need for transporting goods through Europe by road, as it significantly reduces the consumption of energy per ton-km.  

The gains benefit the environment and the customers, but are not included directly in the port’s green accounts. Nevertheless, it may just be the environmental initiative that we are most proud of, Brian Dalby Rasmussen says.

Wind, solar and rails

In 2013, the Port of Aalborg also constructed the then largest solar cell system in North Jutland with an annual production capacity of 80,000 kWh, which is enough to cover the consumption of electricity in the Port of Aalborg’s operating department and administration buildings. 

By the end of 2015, the Port of Aalborg could look back on 4-5 years with full speed ahead on environmental initiatives. We had achieved a reduction of nearly 40% on the consumption of electricity and a corresponding 41% reduction in CO2 emissions from the collective use of electricity, diesel and district heating, Brian Dalby Rasmussen says.

In connection with the Port of Aalborg’s purchase of port facilities at the Nordjylland Power Station, a 2 MW Siemens wind turbine was included in the deal. The wind turbine produced approximately 4 million kWh in 2016, which meant that the port’s CO2 balance reached break-even point when the energy production of the wind turbine was included in the total energy accounts of 2016.

When asked about what is next for the port, the answer came instantly:

On the energy side of things, we are now CO2-neutral, which means that the next step will be to get rid of the fossil fuels, being the diesel oil. The first step has already been taken with the purchase of the first electric car, but we do not know the next steps yet. Additionally, from 2018 we will have the necessary port reception facilities to receive black and grey water from cruise vessels in particular, enabling us to treat the waste water ashore rather than having it discharged at sea. We are also focusing our efforts to transport more goods by rail or by containers via the port’s container terminal. We have also entered into a long-term collaboration with Aalborg University, which will help us define and unfold sustainability as a business strategy. We will continue to develop more sustainable services to our customers and to the benefit of the entire business community in the 9220 postal area and to the rest of the region… and we will of course continue our usual energy projects. For example, we are currently planning the construction of another solar cell system on one of the port’s larger office buildings.