“Every stevedore working in the port of Riga and every company operating in the port will have to become more efficient in terms of energy consumption, be able to be greener and to provide investments in green technologies. We have unanimously supported this trend of the port development. The second important direction is digitalization, so that we can keep pace with today’s global transport and logistics development trends and directions,” emphasized Ansis Zeltins, the Freeport of Riga CEO.
“Green technologies have huge support from Europe, with co-financing of up to 85% in some cases. That means that the investment would pay off very quickly. Considering today’s energy prices, solar panels, for example, with such a significant co-financing, can ensure return on investment in a couple of years,” said Rihards Strenga, Executive Director of the organization representing the interests of companies working in the Port of Riga.
There are many warehouses in the port with a total area of at least 50 thousand m2, which could be operated with solar panels. The companies’ plans to become more energy efficient and environmentally friendly do not have to be fully funded from their own resources – up to 85% of funding can come from the EU.
“Since last year, there have been a lot of programs at European level where entrepreneurs can launch “green” projects as clusters and attract funding directly. This is a very large amount of co-financing and we are looking in that direction. While there are undoubtedly many different criteria that need to be met in order to receive funding, if everything goes as planned, it is certainly an investment worth millions. If we assess the average investment in the port sector in Europe, not to mention the world, then any medium-sized investment starts at 100 million euros. For example, the solar panel project would undoubtedly be of large scale and importance for the port and the city, both from the economic and environmental aspects,” said R. Strenga.
According to R. Strenga, the second important development direction is the digitization of port processes and cargo handling operations. Today, many companies operating in the Freeport of Riga have already automated and digitized a large part of their daily work. However, the common ambition of the port is to create a unified cargo accounting system, which would be connected to the customs and other public services, thus significantly reducing the circulation of paper documents and significantly increasing the capacity and speed of cargo movement.
“Investments in the development of the port – these are investments in the Latvian economy. As for the indirect impact on the gross domestic product – these are several tens of percent. We would like to emphasize this fact in the new port development strategy – if there are stronger ports and more modern terminals, then the Latvian economy will also grow faster. Latvia’s main exports pass directly through ports, so ports are very important for Latvia’s economy to grow faster. On the other hand, many raw materials, including transport units such as cars and light commercial vehicles, are delivered through ports, as well as raw materials for metalworking and mechanical engineering. As ports modernize and enhance their capacity, we provide a considerable direct impact on Latvia’s export leaders, which we are proud of,” emphasized R. Strenga.