Barcelona port rolls out new scheme to reduce emissions

Project testing use of natural gas instead of diesel in lorry engines to combat pollution at facility

The natural gas engine of one of the 26 trucks participating in the RePort project (by Nazaret Romero)
The natural gas engine of one of the 26 trucks participating in the RePort project (by Nazaret Romero) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 12, 2018 01:27 PM

With increasing economic activity, comes greater responsibility, especially when it comes to reducing emissions. After all, the more goods that are imported or exported, the more fuel is burned. For this reason, the Port of Barcelona has rolled out a pilot scheme in an attempt to move away from the use of diesel in the lorries that operate within it.

Via the project RePort, the engines of 26 lorries have already been transformed allowing drivers to switch between using diesel and natural gas. The facility’s general director, José Alberto Carbonell, confirmed on Tuesday that the initiative is still in the “trial phase” but estimates that the use of these dual engines would “reduce fuel costs, and the emissions of suspended particles and polluting gases by 20%.”

Natural gas is seen as a cleaner alternative to diesel as it combusts more completely and therefore emits less contaminants. The port’s president Sixte Cambra highlighted that RePort aims to demonstrate the “viability” of natural gas as a fuel for lorries, as well as further promote it as a “clean and sustainable alternative.”

The definitive tests to ascertain what difference the use of natural gas makes compared to diesel will be carried out throughout July.

Currently eleven transport companies that work in the port area are participating in the RePort project. However, it is estimated that about 70 lorries use dual or natural gas engines. In order to increase its number, the Port of Barcelona hopes to continue developing other projects so that more transport companies incorporate natural gas as fuel.

Plan for the Improvement of Air Quality

Carbonell also pointed out that the RePort project is part of the Air Quality Improvement Plan. This includes the studying of air quality in the city, the conversion of vehicles to dual fuel, supplying gas to the vehicles, and testing the impact on air quality. The plan aims to effectively reduce emissions of port activity, as well minimize its overall impact on the environment.

Growing fast

Traffic at the Port of Barcelona increased by 26% in 2017, compared to the previous year, according to data released by the Catalan capital’s Port Authority, exceeding a total of 61 million tonnes for the first time, making it the fastest growing port in Europe.

The Port of Barcelona is a hub of endless activity. In terms of goods traffic, it continues to grow. The trend of record figures seen in 2017, when traffic increased by 26% making it the fastest growing port in Europe, has continued into this year. In the first four months of 2018, container traffic increased by 20% compared to the same period last year. By April, the maritime facility had already handled more than one million containers.

Sustainable maritime economy

Also on Tuesday, the Catalan government approved the country's first multi-sector strategy with the aim of strengthening a sustainable blue economy. The new maritime policy encompasses all policies related to the sea and integrates them "to make the most of them" and generate "synergies."