Green development in Panama

Posted by:
John Carver
Jones Lang LaSalle’s Ports Airports and Global Infrastructure (PAGI)  group

A team of Jones Lang LaSalle’s industrial experts has just returned from an eye-opening inspection tour of the Panama Canal. The group travelled to Central America to check out the progress of development surrounding the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project. This major development to create a new and substantially larger set of locks is (remarkably) on target and under budget! Set for completion in 2014 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the canal’s inauguration in 1914, the expansion will allow the Canal to accept ships nearly twice the size of the current capacity and handle increased traffic volumes.

Port authorities have been preparing for the Canal expansion ever since the U.S. turned over control to the Republic of Panama in 1999. Since then, the country has attracted capital investment from around the world, ensuring its ability to accommodate increased traffic demands and the trend towards larger, deep-draft vessels.

We learned that the developers have paid careful attention to sustainability and have adopted some green initiatives, such as ensuring that water in the lock system is recycled. The new set of locks will be 40 percent longer and 60 percent wider than the original locks and will be supplemented by a revolutionary system of water saving basins.  The result will save 7 percent less water per transit than the existing system, allowing water to be recycled, rather than be flushed back out to sea. This new technology is designed to capture and recycle 60 percent of the water from the locks.  The new locks will be emptied rather than wasted and then partially refilled to ready the locks for the next vessel to pass through.  

The New Panama Canal is a project of magnificent scale and importance that will forever change shipping patterns and world trade routes. The green element was just another remarkable facet to this world class development, and confirms the Panama Canal’s place as one of the modern wonders of the world.

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