The Port of Bilbao is specialised in handling project cargo, particularly wind turbine components, which has led to Bilbao becoming a hub port for the sector.
In 2019, 4,099 special parts were unloaded in the port. In terms of maximum dimensions, the heaviest of those parts weighed 500 tons; the longest, 70m; the widest, 7.5m and the tallest, 8m. So far this year, 2,295 special consignments have been handled in the port, 11% up on the same period last year.
Wind products are of particular importance in this respect, and continue on an upward trend. In 2019, a total of 142,000 tons of wind turbine components were shipped, whilst in the first half of 2020 (January-June) alone, 96,711 tons have been handled, 23% up on the same period for the previous year. This figure includes engines, rotors, blades and other equipment, some of which is manufactured on-site in the port by leading companies.
In this respect, and with the aim of contributing to the competitiveness of its customers, the Port Authority of Bilbao promotes coordination between the different institutions and players involved in the transport of special parts from factory to port. One of the measures approved is the construction of eleven lay-bys on the N-240 national road, where special transport vehicles will be able to pull over temporarily.
The Port of Bilbao is not only home to companies that specialise in project loading operations but also to others, such as Haizea Wind, Lointek, Navacel and Vicinay Cadenas, which manufacture these parts on the port quays themselves, and ship them from there all over the world. Bilbao is also used as an export hub for leading wind energy component manufacturers such as Siemens-Gamesa, Acciona and Sakana, amongst others.
Likewise, the two leading Basque engineering companies (Sener and Idom) and the main manufacturers of structures and components – including Haizea Wind and Navacel – are all actively engaged in the Seapower offshore wind project. This initiative promotes collaborative research and development of technologies and solutions for offshore wind structures, towers and auxiliary systems for the new generation of high-powered wind turbines (10 MW+). With a budget of EUR 5.3 million for the period 2019-21, the project is funded by the Hazitek Programme of the Basque Government, with support from the European Regional Development Fund.
Members of the Wind Europe Ports Platform
The Port Authority is also a member of the Wind Europe Ports Platform, and participates in and supports various projects designed to achieve maximum
sustainability and energy efficiency. In doing so, the Port Authority is looking to identify new opportunities in the development of wind energy and to network with other leading ports and operators.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the offshore wind market will multiply 15-fold and is on course to attract a trillion dollars of investment by 2040, leading to an energy revolution similar to that of unconventional hydrocarbons and solar photovoltaic.
The European Commission has proposed to increase the budget of the Just Transition Fund to EUR 37.5 billion (compared to EUR 7.5 billion) as part of the EU Recovery Plan.
In June, the Spanish government approved a Royal Decree-Law with a series of measures to promote an orderly and prompt energy transition towards a 100% renewable electricity system, and to encourage economic recovery in line with the European Green Pact. The regulation removes barriers to the massive deployment of renewable sources, defines new business models and promotes energy efficiency, among other issues. With this, and in the context of recovery after Covid-19, a stable framework has been established that will enable Spain to fulfil its potential in terms of employment generation and economic activity, linked to a clean, fair, reliable and economically competitive energy transition. At the same time, the framework will make it possible to reduce electricity bills, given that renewables are the cheapest source of electricity production.