Designing Smart Ports by Integrating Sustainable Infrastructure and Economic Incentives



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Ports and harbors are facing stiff competition for market share and delivering more effective and secure flow of goods worldwide. High performing ports are implementing smart technologies to better manage operations meeting new challenges in maintaining safe, secure, and energy efficient facilities that mitigate environmental impacts. Key elements and associated challenges in the ports include operations (e.g., congestion, delays, operating errors, and lack of information sharing), environment (e.g., air, water and noise pollution, waste disposal, construction and expansion activities), energy (e.g., increasing energy consumption, increasing energy costs, and energy disruption impacts on the port activities), safety (e.g., berthing impacts, vessel collisions, and striking while at berth), and security (e.g., armed robbery, cyber security issues, unlawful acts, stowaways, drug smuggling, use of ports as conduit for moving weapons and terrorist attacks). In response to the existing problems, ports are adopting technology-based solutions, as well as new approaches to port operations planning and management. The implementation of such solutions to mitigate recent problems is known to be switching to smart ports. Although there are ongoing smart port initiatives around the world, a unified definition of a smart port has not been well documented. The proposed research attempts to conceptualize and define smart ports and enable them through the integration of sustainable infrastructure such as microgrids and onshore power supply. As defined by the Department of Energy (DOE), a microgrid is a relatively small-scale localized energy network that features an effective integration of high penetration level of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as renewable energy resources, energy storage devices, and controllable loads. As the first contribution, we attempt to develop a framework for a smart port and a quantitative metric, Smart Port Index (SPI), that ports can use to improve their resiliency and sustainability. Our proposed SPI is based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) gathered from the literature. These KPIs are organized around four key activity domains of a smart port: operations, environment, energy, and safety and security. Case studies are conducted to show how one can use SPI and to assess the performance of some of the busiest ports in the world. Our methodology provides a quantitative tool for port authorities to develop their smart port strategies, assess their smartness, and identify strengths and weaknesses of their current operations for continuous improvement. Our study reveals that smart port initiatives around the world have different levels of comprehensiveness. The results of this study also suggest that government policies and region-specific variables can impact SPI value. The second contribution presents a systematic framework for evaluating the benefits of microgrid integration for industrial ports. Ports are critical infrastructure with significant power demands and emission reduction goals. These features make them the ideal candidates for exploring the opportunities that microgrids can offer. We demonstrate how a set of modified Smart Port Index (SPI) metrics can be incorporated into the port microgrid planning process to holistically improve the smartness of the port. A two-stage stochastic mixed-integer model was developed to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approach under operation uncertainties. The proposed model consists of an investment master problem in the first stage and a multi-objective operation planning subproblem in the second stage. Benders decomposition has been implemented for solving the stochastic model, and Lexicographic Goal Programming is applied to the subproblem to deal with multiple objectives in the model. Case studies were performed to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approach in enhancing major activity domains of a port. Numerical results indicate that compared with the minimum cost planning approach, the proposed framework is capable of improving the productivity, sustainability, and reliability of the port operations. This contribution also studies the investment and planning of onshore power supply (OPS) at port microgrids and analyzes and evaluates the benefits of OPS integration in improving port sustainability and energy efficiency. We show how OPS can be installed and planned along with the microgrids at ports to provide clean power to the vessels at berth. Numerical results illustrate that the integration of OPS along with port microgrid noticeably reduces emissions from the port activities without hindering the economics and competitiveness of the port entity. The last part of this dissertation studies ports' sustainable development and economic incentives that are designed for this purpose. To promote sustainability strategies and technologies at ports, policy-makers have introduced the concept of regulations and economic incentives. In this contribution, we analyze the process in which a regulatory authority defines regulations, incentives, and tax policies to motivate one or more ports in the region to initiate energy sustainability and emission-reduction efforts. We model the behaviors of both the regulatory authority and the participating ports in the form of a multi-objective mixed-integer nonlinear bilevel optimization problem to capture the hierarchy of the policy-making process and the existing competitions among the ports. The proposed model finds the optimal incentive and tax policies for the policy-maker in the upper-level and provides the ports in the region with the optimal choice of smart and sustainable energy solutions and service prices in the lower-level. Simulation results show that the proposed approach can effectively reduce the region-wide emission due to port activities while ensuring port entities' welfare, competitiveness, and sustainable growth as regional energy hubs.



Maritime Transportation, Ports, Smart ports, Microgrid, Onshore Power Supply, Renewable energy, Sustainability, Economic Incentives, Policy Analysis, Stochastic Optimization, Bilevel Programming


Portions of this document appear in: Molavi, Anahita, Gino J. Lim, and Bruce Race. "A framework for building a smart port and smart port index." International Journal of Sustainable Transportation (2019): 1-13. And in: Molavi, Anahita, Jian Shi, Yiwei Wu, and Gino J. Lim. "Enabling smart ports through the integration of microgrids: A two-stage stochastic programming approach." Applied Energy 258 (2020): 114022.