National Grid, NGP and Siemens Helping UK Ports Hit Their Decarbonization Targets

The UK’s commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require much more than boosting renewable energy production and getting more drivers into EVs. The shipping industry, for instance, accounts for an estimated 5 percent of the nation’s transport emissions, largely due to diesel-powered ships and dockside vehicles and equipment. To reach the clean-air target, those vehicles will need to use low- or zero-emission energy, and ports will need to shift to a decarbonized energy network.

The nation’s Climate Change Committee estimates that weaning the nation’s maritime industry off fossil fuels could create the demand for an additional 70 terawatt hours of electricity per year. That’s enough to power a million homes for two decades.

It’s a tall task, and the first step is helping ports develop a clear understanding of their current network infrastructure and potential future power needs. That’s why National Grid Partners joined with National Grid Electricity Transmission and Siemens to establish a free, online decarbonization tool for ports.

Developed alongside the British Ports Association, the tool is designed to model future peak demand for port energy.

Brian Ryan, vice president of Innovation at NGP, said the tool incorporates a range of inputs such as: “What ships are coming in, and how regularly? How big are their fuel requirements? How many trucks are passing through each day? And if we decarbonize all of this – if it goes to green energy – what is that going to look like?”

The decarbonization tool assesses those port assets and allows customized assumptions.

“Ports are ambitious in their decarbonization plans,” said Mark Simmonds, British Ports Association’s Director of Policy. “The industry has already made significant investment in reducing emissions from equipment and buildings and in the first shore power installations.” The new online tool, he said, will help port and government leaders “understand what they are going to need to meet future targets.”

Lynsey Jeffers, Siemens’ Smart Infrastructure Sector Lead for UK Ports, called the collaboration with National Grid and the Ports Association “critical to give ports the preliminary guidance to ensure a smooth transition to a cleaner world.”

NGP’s Ryan added that the move to decarbonization can help ports reduce pollution in surrounding areas.

“In the UK, ports are often very close to big urban centers, and so a lot of the toxic fumes that these big marine diesel engines kick out have negative consequences on those environments,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to actually flip that in an economic and efficient way and decarbonize an area by putting ports at the heart of it.”