HomeTechnologyII Luso-Spanish Forum bets on decarbonisation

II Luso-Spanish Forum bets on decarbonisation

On July 2, the auditorium of the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) in Porto hosted the 2nd Luso-Spanish Forum. Organized jointly by the Repsol Foundation and the Corell Foundation, the event brought together leaders and experts from both countries to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Iberian Peninsula on the path towards a sustainable energy transition.

The event, held in the Open Room, was opened by Joaquim Reis, Director of the Repsol Foundation in Portugal, who recalled the strong economic exchange between Portugal and Spain and the great potential for growth that still exists.

Joaquim Reis, director of the Repsol Foundation in Portugal

He concluded by saying that “in this context of opportunities for Portugal and Spain, it is necessary to move towards a more sustainable and fair community, promoting actions, projects and initiatives that help us move towards a more sustainable economy and future, without leaving anyone behind.”

The opening ceremony also included a speech by Marcos Basante, president of the Corell Foundation, who warned that long-distance land transport is going through a period of uncertainty and called on Portugal and Spain to work together to make freight transport better and more sustainable.

Marcos Basante, President of the Corell Foundation

Filipe Araújo, Vice President of Porto City Council, gave the final speech at the institutional opening of the event. “The city of Porto aims to become a more sustainable city, carbon neutral and adapted to the challenges posed by climate change,” he began by saying. For the Councillor for Environment and Climate Transition, this path must be taken not only by the city’s institutions, but also with the support of citizens, “always with the vision of contributing to a prosperous and sustainable city.”

Filipe Araújo, Vice President of Porto City Hall

The vice president recalled that, in this regard, the municipality has invested and invested in the production of its own energy with the installation of photovoltaic panels. However, he believes that this effort cannot come only from public entities, but must also involve the private sector: “none of this can be achieved, nor can any objective be achieved, without the involvement of everyone,” he concluded.

Technological challenges for Portuguese companies

The first panel, which discussed the technological challenges facing Portuguese companies in the energy transition, brought together António Louro, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Trucks Portugal, Sérgio Salgueiro, Director of Operations at ALSA in Portugal, and Marcos Madeira, Director of Sales Channels. Mobility at Repsol Portuguesa, Salvador Galve, President of the European Alliance corREDores.eu and Helena Braga, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto.

As Sérgio Salgueiro states, “ALSA has been investing in technological solutions for decarbonisation for over 15 years.” And, although electric vehicles are the most developed, they are also “heavily dependent on energies that are not yet developed, such as hydrogen.” However, ALSA’s Director of Operations states that they need to have “partnerships with academic institutions and vehicle manufacturers to test and see how these vehicles respond in a market environment, if they meet customer expectations.”

Continuing with the topic of transport, for Mercedes-Benz there are two alternatives: electric vehicles and trucks that run on hydrogen. For António Louro, although electric energy is one of the most efficient on the market, it has a drawback: it is necessary to have “constant and easily planned routes and loads”. This drawback can be solved by using hydrogen, which, according to the brand’s general manager, “will allow transports that are not so easily planned”, such as long-distance transport. Despite this, and despite the fact that there is already some infrastructure that allows us to move towards these solutions, António Louro affirms that “we still have a long way to go”.

For Marcos Madeira, “renewable fuels are a current solution to reduce emissions, which already exists and is commercially available.” As stated by the Director of Mobility Channels at Repsol Portuguesa, the adoption of renewable fuels, such as HVO, can bring great benefits to the transport sector, especially for heavy road transport, aviation and maritime transport. “The main advantage of these fuels is that they can be used in current vehicles taking advantage of existing infrastructures, which means that we do not have to wait for the development of new technologies or the renewal of the vehicle fleet to start reducing emissions.”

Salvador Galve is betting on another alternative: the European railway. For the president of corREDores.eu, the energy transition is nothing more than “a vector of competitiveness to reindustrialise a Europe” that has lost industrial competitiveness. According to Salvador Galve, it is necessary to have “a European railway transport network”, because “without competitive transport there will be no competitive industry”. And “it is the industry that creates stable and quality employment”.

Helena Braga addressed the issue of critical materials, which are included in the EU’s list of Critical Raw Materials. “This list includes not only the materials needed for transistors, motors, cell phones, etc., but also materials identified as essential for batteries, in this case batteries associated with lithium.” For the FEUP associate professor, lithium batteries will continue to exist for a long time, but the use of some minerals needs to be reduced. However, he says, “we still have to be more creative to eliminate some elements from the EU’s list of critical materials.” Helena Braga concludes by saying that “training people will be essential, because technologies are changing not only batteries, but also cars and transistors.”

Infrastructure challenges

The second round table focused on the difficulties of infrastructure for sustainable mobility and was attended by Ana Souta, General Manager of the National Association of Transporters of Goods by Public Road (ANTRAM), Paulo Niza, Commercial Director of MEDWAY, Ramón Valdivia, Executive Vice President and President of the International Association of Road Transport (ASTIC), and Vasco Silva, Director of the Port of Leixões.

For Ramón Valdivia, there are three main challenges: a lack of staff, a lack of infrastructure and inadequate European legislation. According to the executive vice-president of ASTIC, “the main mission of transport companies, from a social point of view, is to create wealth, employment and serve society”. However, “the world we live in in Europe is really creating uncertainty and legal insecurity: we need to change technologies and trends quickly, because 2030 and 2035 are very close and European Union legislation continues to focus on penalising and not on incentivising”.

Ana Souta says that “in terms of infrastructure, we have made great progress in recent decades. But in fact, infrastructure is not just about roads and highway construction. There is a whole other support network that needs to be considered,” such as rest parks for heavy truck drivers, which are few and often overcrowded. In addition, we must also think about sustainability. As the CEO of ANTRAM says, “heavy vehicles are necessary” and the solution to making them more sustainable can be to “transport more with less,” that is, use transport with greater load capacity.

Paulo Niza says that the main challenges faced in railway infrastructure are related to the Atlantic Corridor high-water line, which “will remain closed for three years when it was initially due to be closed for 9 months”. For the Commercial Director of MEDWAY this “has a negative impact on all rail freight operators”. However, the expectation is that the line will be operational at the beginning of the second quarter of 2025 and that the projects can be resumed.

As for Vasco Silva, “in relation to transport logistics there will be no solution. There will be several solutions that will have to be combined to respond to transport logistics. And this has to be a joint effort between ports, rail transport and road transport. We will all be precise.”

The forum also featured three presentations: André Sá, professor at the Guarda Polytechnic Institute, spoke about the digital transformation of logistics and transport through the development of digital twins for car manufacturers. Yolanda Moratilla, professor at the Higher Technical School of Engineering at the Pontifical University of Comillas and researcher at the Rafael Mariño Chair of New Energy Technologies, presented the study “Mineral resources in the western area of ​​Extremadura”. And finally, André Themudo, head of Black Rock in Portugal, spoke about the keys to investing in sustainable infrastructure.

Source: Observadora

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