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Green airports and ports as multimodal hubs for sustainable and smart mobility

Building on best practices (technological, non-technological and social), as well as ongoing projects and planned initiatives in European airports and ports, actions should address the activities EITHER under area A) Green Airports OR under area B) Green Ports. Proposals should clearly indicate which area they are covering.

Area A: Green Airports

Actions should perform large-scale, real-life high TRL (6 or above) demonstrations of green airports, addressing all of the following four headings, collectively describing the various airport aspects to be considered: 1) Transport, 2) Terminal, 3) Energy and 4) Cross-cutting aspects.

1. Transport

Actions should cover all of the following aspects:

  1. access and multimodal connections to the airport (e.g. from cities or other nodes);
  2. from the airport terminal to the aircraft (airside);
  3. at the airport landside (logistics, ground handlings and operations, as well as green energy production/supply of sustainable alternative fuels or electricity).

Actions should also cover at least three of the following, as appropriate:

  • demonstrating low-emission energy use (electrification or sustainable alternative fuels) for aircraft, airports, other/connected and automated vehicles accessing or operating at airports (e.g. road vehicles, rolling stock, drones), as well as for public transport and carpooling, with re-charging/re-fuelling stations and use of incentives;
  • showcasing the use of innovative de-icing and anti-icing procedures and infrastructures;
  • applying innovative digital and EU satellite-based solutions, including new tools and traffic optimisation mechanisms for multimodal access, passenger and freight flows into and out of the airport, as well as between airports, facilitating airport access and reducing traffic from/to the city or other nodes;
  • promoting the development of production facilities for sustainable alternative fuels, as well as the necessary underlying infrastructure (for distribution, fuel handling logistics and blending operations) to facilitate the conversion of waste to sustainable alternative fuels and the delivery of the fuels to the airport, for small and medium airports, and scalable to large airports, therefore allowing deployment at a significant number of airports;
  • promoting intermodal mobility (e.g. in the context of mobility/logistics as a service or transport-on-demand), including efficient rail interconnection solutions and innovative train-airport station concepts;
  • conceiving, developing and preparing for future implementation of a new autonomous, integrated and operational EU Clearing House for Sustainable Kerosene (EU-CHSK). The EU-CHSK would undertake testing for new value chains of renewable kerosene in Europe, involving relevant laboratories for the analyses of fuels and facilities to carry out testing in jet engines, in compliance with existing or newly developed standards.

2. Terminal

Actions should cover at least two of the following, as appropriate:

  • demonstrating integration of new solutions with operations, green and smart logistics and infrastructures;
  • developing the built environment (construction/demolition) using more ecologically-friendly materials and processes and incorporating these improvements in the procurement processes to sustainably decrease the ecological footprint;
  • improving the energy efficiency of buildings; optimising services such as lighting, heating, natural ventilation and air conditioning (taking into account strict public health criteria), water/energy usage and efficiency;
  • enhancing biodiversity, green land planning and use, as well as circular economy (e.g. repair, reuse and recycling of buildings and waste, in the context of zero-waste concepts).

3. Energy

Actions should cover at least two of the following, as appropriate:

  • addressing the entire energy value chain from supply to use: demonstrating energy efficient facilities for green energy production (e.g. electricity, advanced biofuels, synthetic kerosene, mixture SAF/Jet A1, green hydrogen) to power/electrify the built environment and infrastructure, transport and airport ground operations;
  • envisaging industrial scale pilot advanced biofuels refineries or retooling of existing fuel refineries, as a means of producing sustainable alternative fuels and generating additional heat and power in an efficient manner and minimal environmental impact;
  • identifying effective incentives to address challenges in the sustainable alternative fuels system (e.g. fuel producers, fuel distributors, airport operators, airline operators) and promoting the penetration of sustainable alternative fuels within the aviation sector;
  • assessing the scalability of solutions – e.g. enabling sustainable alternative fuel producers to cover investment risks and promote advanced technology, while securing buy-in of end users (air operators).

4. Cross-cutting aspects

Actions should cover at least three of the following, as appropriate:

  • air quality (indoor, outdoor, including decontamination from microbiological pathogens) and noise trade-off;
  • impact on the existing legal framework covering operational and environmental aspects, eco-labelling, certifications (robust certification and green standards setting) and measurement, reporting and verification (MRV);
  • use of ICT and, among others, EU satellite-based solutions to effectively manage resources and assets, including management of information and production of knowledge, taking into account all the related safety and security aspects of the solutions developed and proposed;
  • sustainable evolution of airports, also in the context of circular economy (e.g. activities linked to aircraft decommissioning and collection/sorting of recyclable waste), considering institutional and governance aspects, ownership, regulation, performance indicators and balance of force between regulators, airlines and airport operators;
  • feasibility of a market-based instrument to prevent/reduce Food Loss and Waste (FLW) and to valorise a business case of transformation of FLW into new bio-based products. This includes FLW measurement and monitoring methodologies and the subsequent mapping of FLW total volume at stake in the considered airport;
  • assessing non-technological framework conditions, such as market mechanisms and potential regulatory actions in the short and medium term, which can provide financial/operational incentives and legal certainty for implementing low-emission solutions;
  • developing and promoting new multi-actor governance arrangements that address the interactions between all airport-related stakeholders, including authorities, aircraft owners and operators, local communities, civil society organisations and city, regional or national planning departments.

Area B: Green Ports

Actions should perform large-scale, real-life high TRL (6 or above) demonstrations of sustainable maritime and inland ports, addressing the first aspect below and at least five of the following ones :

  • demonstrating integrated low-emission energy supply and production at ports (e.g. electricity, green hydrogen, advanced biofuels and bioliquids) and supply systems (on-shore or off-shore), with storage, distribution and power/re-charging/sustainable alternative fuel re-fueling infrastructure for ships and other vehicles operating at/to/from ports, as well as for other uses (e.g. port equipment/machinery, on-shore power supply systems for vessels mooring in the port, etc.);
  • demonstrating sustainability and innovation beyond energy supply and demand at ports, particularly the integration with green and smart logistics and operations at/to/from ports, energy-efficient buildings, innovative construction, dredging and infrastructure activities, effective and green land use;
  • demonstrating seamless and highly efficient logistics operations, for integrated sea/river-port-hinterland connections (e.g. between sea/river, rail and road), to enable modal shifts and system-wide door-to-door multimodal passenger mobility and freight transport;
  • performing pilot activities to showcase the positive environmental effects of digitalisation (incl. EU satellite-based solutions) in ports, particularly with clean (e.g. electrified/hydrogen) connected and automated vehicles and cranes, as well as intelligent port systems and dynamic vessel traffic flows for improved routing and scheduling, to minimise ship time at port, enabling efficient and automated logistics chains and multimodal inter-connections;
  • delivering new tools and optimisation mechanisms for multimodal access, passenger and freight flows into and out of the port, as well as between ports, facilitating port access and reducing traffic from/to the city or other nodes;
  • assessing non-technological framework conditions, such as market mechanisms and potential regulatory actions in the short and medium term, which can provide financial/operational incentives and legal certainty for implementing low-emission solutions (e.g. considering first-mover advantage, best-equipped-best-served principles and port market share effects);
  • developing and promoting new multi-actor governance arrangements that address the interactions between all port-related stakeholders, including port authorities, ship owners, local communities, civil society organisations and city, regional or national planning departments, in order to accelerate the production and use of sustainable energy;
  • delivering a Master Plan for the future Green Port, with a bold vision and a roadmap with milestones to achieve GHG neutral shipping and minimal pollution in maritime and inland port areas (incl. ships in and approaching port) by 2030, 2040 and 2050; as well as addressing the associated investment/cost implications (incl. operational and capital expenditures). This master plan should also address:
    • a wider socio-economic perspective, covering sustainable and smart mobility, technical, operational, economic, environmental and social aspects, relevant to shaping the green ports of the future and their integration with other sustainable transport modes, the hinterland, cities and urban mobility;
    • solutions with the highest potential for emission reduction at ports, focusing on CO2 and noxious pollutant emissions (SOx, NOx and particulates), as well as water pollution and noise, but also on improving biodiversity, the soil and the aquatic environment, while considering climate change effects (e.g. sea/river-level rise, new tourism patterns, etc.);
    • analysis of the various alternatives for the provision of power supply at the port, such as fixed land energy grid vs. mobile power production and supply (e.g. LNG generators/containers) and mobile storage, for instance through the use of barges or trucks bringing energy/batteries, etc.;
    • assessment of whether existing fossil fuel, LNG or other/chemical infrastructures in the broader port areas could be used to facilitate the transition towards low-emission shipping and bunkering of carbon neutral fuels;
    • a holistic sustainable port design concept, leveraging green construction, demolition and dredging activities, with energy-efficient or renovated buildings, optimising land and sea/river use, improving biodiversity and circular economy;
    • scalable solutions that can be replicated/gradually scaled-up to larger or scaled-down to smaller ports, together with the demonstration of their environmental sustainability and technical, operational, and economic viability;
    • governance, business, deployment models and plans, including internal/external costs;
    • collaboration models across multiple stakeholders, paving the ground for large-scale deployment of the demonstrated innovative solutions across European ports;
    • a comprehensive report of all project findings in detail, including the identified proposed suitable pathways for European ports to achieve GHG-neutrality, by use of standardised tools for assessing the comparative emission reduction of different ports;
    • a handbook on how to move from planning, to implementation, replication and scaling-up the deployment of the demonstrated solutions, for different sizes and locations of ports across Europe.

Applicable to both Area A: Green Airports and Area B: Green Ports

Actions for both areas (Green Airports and Green Ports), in addition to addressing the aspects described above should, where appropriate, incorporate field performance monitoring with a view to assessing the effectiveness of the deployable solutions. This should be determined by measuring the performance difference (for comparable activity levels) between the initial status, considered before the innovative solutions are applied (baseline), and the status at a point in time at 2-3 years into the project, after a number of the solutions produced by the project have been applied.

Actions should also provide a quantified assessment of the expected improvement in airport or port energy consumption, as well as in greenhouse gas emissions and air quality.

In order to enhance synergies and impact, proposals should foresee a work package for cooperation with other actions in the same area and earmark appropriate resources for coordination, communication efforts and relevant research work with other projects and initiatives.

Each consortium should include a leading “Lighthouse” airport or port, which will demonstrate the novel concepts and solutions and a further three (at most) “Fellow” airports or ports that will be actively associated in helping to define and incorporate their specificities in the more general approach and solutions, follow closely the demonstration actions and are committed to implement the best practices identified and results produced by the project. For Green Ports, each consortium should include at least one inland port. All consortia should also be multidisciplinary in nature by including partners with the appropriate complementary knowledge and skills (e.g. industry, consultancy, airport/port authorities, academia). All participating airports or ports must be from different EU Member States and/or Associated Countries.

In line with the Union’s strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, international cooperation is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 15 and 25 million each would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Typically, projects should have a duration of 48 to 60 months. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts or durations. A maximum of 20% of the requested EU contribution should be for the Fellow airports or ports.

Grants will be awarded to proposals according to the overall ranking list. However, in order to ensure a balanced portfolio of supported actions, at least the two highest-ranked proposals in each area will be funded (i.e. two proposals for area A) Green Airports and another two for area B) Green Ports), provided they attain all thresholds.

A clear commitment of the European Green Deal is that “transport should become drastically less polluting”, highlighting in particular the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in aviation and waterborne transport. In aviation, traffic volumes are expected to increase significantly by 2050 and the sector is already generating 14% of the EU GHG emissions from transport. At the same time, waterborne transport accounts for approximately 90% of global trade and 13% of EU transport GHG emissions, while also experiencing continuous growth. In this context, airports, maritime and inland ports play a major role, both as inter-connection points in the respective transport networks, but also as major multimodal nodes, logistics hubs and commercial sites, linking with other transport modes, hinterland connections and integrated with cities. As such, green airports and ports, as multimodal hubs in the post COVID-19 era for sustainable and smart mobility have a great potential to immediately contribute to start driving the transition towards GHG-neutral aviation, shipping and wider multimodal mobility already by 2025. This topic therefore addresses innovative concepts and solutions for airports and ports, in order to urgently reduce transport GHG emissions and increase their contribution to mitigating climate change.

The project results are expected to contribute to:

  • accelerated deployment of sustainable alternative fuels (including advanced biofuels), green hydrogen and electromobility in transport, as well as sustainable energy supply and storage and waste heat recovery in airports and ports;
  • clean energy/fuel production and distribution (particularly green hydrogen and electricity) and increased alternative (bio-) fuel supply, with re-fueling and re-charging capabilities;
  • green airports and ports as multimodal hubs, optimising passenger and freight flows for low emission mobility, in a context of much stricter public health criteria;
  • energy-efficient and green airport and port operations and buildings, green and smart logistics, integration with other low-emission transport modes (in particular rail) and promoting effective modal shifts;
  • reduced aviation, waterborne and other transport emissions, as well as improved air quality, biodiversity, contribution to the circular economy and reduction of noise at airports and ports;
  • reduced emissions for cities and urban mobility, as well as improved city integration for airports and ports;
  • clear commitments and contributions to Europe-wide take up of technological, non-technological and socially innovative solutions during and beyond the project are expected, which could be in the form of follow-up actions, for instance supported by EU’s Connecting Europe Facility or other funding programmes;
  • significant, direct and immediate contribution to the achievement of the European Green Deal, as well as other EU transport policy objectives (including TEN-T), while strengthening the competitiveness of the European transport sector.