Innovation and sustainability to boost the blue economy


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Barcelona and its port have evolved together over the centuries. The Catalan capital could not be an industrial, commercial and open city without having a first-rate port that has facilitated the arrival of raw materials and, at the same time, sent its production to the whole world. The
responsible
of this powerful economic platform that is Port of Barcelona highlights in its Strategic Plan 2021-2025 the axes of environmental sustainability, social and economic with the aim of exceeding 70,000 million euros in the value of foreign trade, electrifying 50% of container and cruise ship docks and reaching 40,000 workers.

The creation of a blue economy technology district is one of the projects that will act as an engine for this growth to be respectful with the environment.

The blue economy contributes 5% of world GDP and, in Spain it generates some 23,000 million euros of gross added value and more than 691,000 jobs, according to the Spanish Global Compact Network. The technological district has its embryo in Pier01, a port hub made up of more than a hundred companies and startups and located in the public area of ​​the facilities, Port Vell, which is where intense activity is concentrated and exerts investment and talent attraction pole. Fishing activities, moorings, repair and maintenance of leisure boats, historical sports clubs, restaurants and hotels take place there, as well as mass events throughout the year, such as the Boat Show or the Christmas Fair.

Training and employment

The development of quality sectoral training, with the creation of an integrated port logistics training center, will also turn this space into a landing strip for technology companies, academia and the maritime sector to develop a new economic activity in the field. of the blue economy. According to the Port of Barcelona, ​​these projects will facilitate the creation of new quality jobs within a sector that currently employs some 15,000 people and generates 3.75 billion annual turnover in the city of Barcelona, ​​which represents 4.3% of its GDP and 1.4% of its employment.

The environmental aspect aims to have half of the docks for container ships and wheeled vehicle transport electrified by 2025, in order to have a network of connections to renewable energy that allows ships to turn off their engines and stop emitting fuel when they are moored in the port. And in terms of social sustainability, the set horizon is to reach 40,000 people working daily or regularly in the infrastructure. The overall objective is to transcend the classic port function oriented to maritime traffic to consolidate itself as a multidisciplinary space where all means of transport converge. The intermodal commitment is based on increasing rail traffic with its ‘hinterland’ that now reaches Aragon and the south of France, as well as the so-called motorways of the sea with Italy, the Maghreb and the eastern Mediterranean, generating more sustainable and efficient logistics chains.

Global Initiative

To be part of the solution to the climate emergency, the port authorities intend to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and convert the infrastructure into a CO2-neutral port by 2050. To achieve this, the electrification plan foresees an investment of 90 million euros, part of which has been requested from the Next Generation funds of the European Union. In a few months it is expected to launch two pilot projects in a container terminal and in another for ferries, so that by 2022 the ships can already be connected to the electricity grid. Both terminals will serve as a reference for the subsequent implementation so that by 2030 most of the docks will be electrified, say those responsible.

Port of Barcelona leads the OPS group of terrestrial energy supply within the World Port Climate Action Program (WPCAP), an alliance promoted by some of the main ports on the planet, including Rotterdam, Hamburg, Los Angeles and Montreal, among others. One of the most relevant initiatives of this alliance is the reduction of polluting emissions by promoting the electrification of docks in ports around the world.

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