To the future
Intense investment activity in the port. There are many paths to the port of the future. Lluís Salvadó Tenesa, president of the port of Barcelona since the end of 2022, spoke to Christian Doepgen about his goals.
Which projects have you prioritised, Mr President?
To realise the new port of the future we plan to execute a package of works this year worth approximately EUR 300 million. It’s essential to make port activity more sustainable. We’re working towards this by increasing the railways’ share, developing the infrastructure to supply cleaner fuels, and equipping wharves with OPS to allow ships to connect to the mains electrical supply when in port. The goal of our investment of EUR 110 million in the Nexigen project is to have the principal wharves electrified in the next five years.
How did business go in 2022?
Despite a very turbulent year we overshot the 71 million t mark for the first time in history of the port. The recovery of natural gas traffic in the port in 2022 was very positive. The main trigger was the closure of the Algeria–Cádiz gas pipeline in October 2021, which led to a continual increase in LNG arrivals by sea.
New vehicle traffic through the port of Barcelona grew by 18.4% in 2022, and has maintained this positive trend at the beginning of 2023. This was made possible also by the wide variety of brands that unload their vehicles in Barcelona. Vehicle exports fell by nearly 8%, it’s true, while import and transit volumes grew strongly, by 63% and 145% respectively.
How is the digitalisation of port activities proceeding?
We’re developing the 5G telecommunications network throughout the port system, ready for the internet of things and the increasing automation of management tools and services. This year this will involve an investment of EUR 500,000, increasing to EUR 4 million over the next five years. Rolling out an optical fibre network will involve an investment of EUR 2.1 million in 2023 and EUR 5.6 million over four years.
To improve security we’ll invest approximately EUR 2.8 million in more than 200 new cameras throughout the port area. Additional funds have been earmarked for a new cybersecurity plan, control-tower software, centralised traffic control (CTC) for railway traffic, and a twin port project, amongst many other plans.
How important is the Smart Ports alliance for Barcelona?
Ports have to work together on innovation and digital and energy transformation to serve society and ensure the well-being of citizens. Barcelona hosted the ‘Smart Ports – Piers of the Future’ conference in 2022, which coincided with the port of Gothenburg joining the alliance.
Gothenburg leads the way in initiatives to decarbonise port activities and will host Europe’s first green fuel hub. The gateway provides the members of the alliance with valuable know-how to help reduce the impact ports have on the environment. At the port of Barcelona we believe in cooperating and exchanging information with other hubs to move forward together to achieve the milestones we’ve set ourselves.
EUR 120 million is set to be invested in public-private projects, also in Barcelona’s old Port Vell. Do you also bank on private investors?
The 19 measures there represent an initial phase in the transformation that Port Vell will undergo in the coming years. They’ll be finished before the 37th America’s Cup kicks off on 22 August 2024. This whole process is shaping up to be one example of success in public-private cooperation in the port area.
Future projects include BlueTech Barcelona, a blue economy innovation centre that will host start-ups, maritime institutions, innovation centres of firms linked to logistics, transport and port activities, and training centres, such as the Logistics Institute of Barcelona.