How better lighting can enable sustainable ports

More than 80% of products that we consume daily travel through ports, making them a key link in the global production and supply chains we rely on. Yet, ports also have a major environmental impact – both in terms of greenhouse emissions and air pollution that can impact port communities.


Given the pivotal role that ports play in global supply chains, the environment, and local communities, port operators are facing acute pressure to improve their ESG credentials. These demands are set to play a huge role in a port’s future profitability.


Sustainability is becoming a crucial KPI for ports


Reducing port emissions will cut air and water pollution and could improve the health of over 3.5 billion people while helping curb climate change.


Improving sustainability across all supply chain touch points is intensifying, and the removal of carbon emissions is an integral part of this – especially for shipping. In addition to regulation, shareholders and corporate leaders are also setting ambitious sustainability targets. This is true for some port operators but, critically, it is also true for their customers; the world’s largest charterers and cargo owners are not only working to reduce their direct emissions, but reporting on and mitigating their environmental impact throughout their supply chains.


As such, decarbonising operations is already becoming a business-critical metric for ports in Europe. In the EU and the UK, some ports and port operators have a legal obligation to report on their greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage, and it is more likely that ports will face tighter regulations in the near future. With more stakeholders analysing these figures, port operators need to face the sustainability challenge to reduce their climate footprint or seek to transition to net zero emission operations.


It is therefore not surprising that energy efficiency was ranked in the top environmental concerns by EcoPort in 2019 and 2020 by its 102 members from 25 nations. A major, but often overlooked factor for port operators is inefficient lighting within ports and terminal operations, with lighting accounting for nearly 5% of global CO2 emissions.


Combining environmental and commercial benefits


Reducing emissions through better efficiency is also a commercial ‘no brainer’. Low-efficiency solutions increase OPEX and increase the reputational costs of lagging behind competitors in emissions reporting. With the world facing the biggest energy crisis since the 1970s and energy costs reaching new peaks, the importance of energy efficiency is rising up the international agenda. As International Energy Agency’s executive director, Faith Birol highlighted in June 2022; Energy efficiency is a critical solution to so many of the world’s most urgent challenges – it can simultaneously make our energy supplies more affordable, more secure and more sustainable. But inexplicably, government and business leaders are failing to sufficiently act on this.”


As an innovative supplier of operationally critical infrastructure to the ports and terminals sector at Midstream Lighting we believe that improving energy efficiency goes hand in hand with delivering safer, more resilient, and more cost-efficient operations. We are also able to provide comprehensive, segmented data on energy use for lighting across a port’s side, at the request of the port operator so that operations can be effectively measured and improved.


Partnering for success


As European regulators renew and enhance energy saving and environmental targets to meet climate goals, there are likely to be new regulations on lighting. This will likely ban the use of more polluting systems, such as high-pressure sodium and sulphur-based Lighting systems. LED Lighting as the most efficient option available for ports on the market is effectively regulation-proof.


These are undoubtedly challenging times but with the right partners and relationships, these can present opportunities for ports to step up and recognise the commercial advantages of implementing a variety of environmental measures that inadvertently boost competitiveness, safety and long-term profitability. While lighting is only a small yet important part of the puzzle for port operators, we are committed to supporting our customers and making a measurable, positive impact on environmental and commercial performance.


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