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Ten-t revision: European parliament must recognise essential role of ports in new energy supply chains

Friday, 14 April 2023 | 00:00

Tomorrow the European Parliament’s Transport Committee will vote on the compromise agreements reached on the revision of the TEN-T Regulation.

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has repeatedly pleaded for a new assessment of the importance of Europe’s ports in the TEN-T network in order to reflect the current and future role of ports in the supply of new energies. More than 40 amendments tabled by six different political groups had been tabled supporting this idea.

Up to now, ports are considered part of the “TEN-T club” if they move enough tonnes and/or TEU. While throughput is still a valid criterion to measure the importance of ports, ESPO believes it is time to also take into account the crucial role ports play as hub in the green transition and Europe’s security of energy supply. The new energies are of importance for Europe and the related supply chains (such as hydrogen, wind, etc.) are more important in terms of volumes and space needed than fossil energies and fuels. They also come with specific transport needs, infrastructure and connectivities, storage and new supply chains.

Therefore, by counting only tonnes in ports, the TEN-T policy risks to ignore the importance of ports in building and strengthening the supply chain for the new energy landscape.

“The role some ports in Europe are playing in the development, the supply and value chain of new energies is immense but cannot be measured in terms of tonnes – the current sole criterium to be a TEN-T port. ESPO believes it is time for the TEN-T policy to understand and reflect that the energy transition has a major impact on supply chains, connectivities, transport modes and port infrastructure. It is more than time to adapt the TEN-T policy to these new realities and include ports that play an important role in the energy value chain. Without these ports, the supply of renewable energy will be hampered”, says ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.

The offshore wind industry illustrates this point very well. WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson says: “Ports are essential logistics hubs for offshore wind. We can’t build out offshore wind without also expanding and upgrading Europe’s port infrastructure. TEN-T must acknowledge that. Many tonnes of material are moved in and out of the ports during the storage, assembly and installation of wind turbines. But that’s not the end of the story. Ports also ensure reliable and secure energy production at sea. But these essential operation and maintenance activities are not covered under the current criteria for ports to access the TEN-T network. MEPs must address this issue. TEN-T should include metrics that are in line with Europe’s decarbonisation objectives.”

ESPO welcomes in that respect the position taken by the Council on 5 December last year, as expressed in their General Approach.

Following the Council, on top of the current volume criterion (0.1% of the EU total volume of port cargo), a port can also be part of the comprehensive network if “its total annual cargo volume (bulk and non-bulk) exceeds 500.000 tonnes AND its contribution to the diversification of EU energy supplies and to the acceleration of the roll-out of renewable energies is one of the main activities of the port”. The Council is thus clearly recognising this new role of ports and the importance of having these ports as nodes of the future TEN-T network.

ESPO believes this idea – as reflected already in the many amendments tabled – should also be recognised by the European Parliament.

ESPO looks forward to continue the dialogue with the Parliament and Council in view of achieving a final TEN-T agreement that reflects this concern.
Source: ESPO

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