Air Freight News

NatPower Marine and Peel Ports Group announce plans for first ‘green shipping corridor’ between UK and Ireland

May 23, 2024

· NatPower Marine and Peel Ports Group announce plans to establish UK’s first green shipping corridors with Ireland.

· Proposals would see NatPower Marine invest over £100m across Peel Port Group’s eight ports to establish charging infrastructure for e-ships and electric cars, vans and HGVs.

· First routes identified include Belfast-Heysham and Dublin-Birkenhead, supporting plans for Heysham Port in Lancashire to become the UK’s first net zero port.

· Collaboration is the first part of a £3 billion global network of 120 “clean ports” planned by NatPower Marine by 2030, enabling ship operators and cargo owners to plan clean shipping routes.

In a ground-breaking new collaboration that could provide a blueprint to drastically cut global shipping emissions, NatPower Marine and Peel Ports Group, a major UK port operator, today announce plans to establish the first “green shipping corridors” between Ireland and the UK.

The proposed project would see NatPower Marine develop the UK’s first commercial electric ship (e-ship) charging network to support electric propulsion and cold ironing (the process of accessing clean power while docked to avoid significant engine pollution while at the port), as part of a global network.

The network – which would require an estimated £100m investment from NatPower Marine – would see this dedicated e-ship charging infrastructure delivered across all eight UK and Irish ports operated by Peel Ports Group. The master plan would also include electric car, van and HGV chargers installed for commercial electric vehicles passing through the ports.

Over 3,000 vessels cross the Irish Sea every year, emitting 230,000 tonnes of CO2, 20,000 tonnes of nitrous oxide (NOx), and 18,000 of sulphur oxide (SOx). Connecting these to onshore electric charging when in port could dramatically reduce these emissions, supporting climate goals and improving local air quality.

The first Irish Sea routes identified in the proposals include Belfast-Heysham and Dublin-Birkenhead. This would support Peel Port Group’s ambitions for Heysham Port in Lancashire to become the UK’s first ‘net zero port’. The port has already slashed the emissions of its landside plant, equipment and vehicles by up to 90%.

The plans mark the first step in a new £3 billion global charging network, planned by NatPower Marine for 120 port locations worldwide by 2030. NatPower Marine will develop the sites, in partnership with port operators, and act as the long-term operator of the global charging network.

Stefano Sommadossi, CEO at NatPower Marine, said: “NatPower Marine is investing to deploy the largest global network of charging points to help solve the ‘chicken and egg conundrum’ facing this industry: shipping lines cannot electrify their vessels if port charging infrastructure is not available, and ports are unable to raise capital for charging infrastructure without certainty of demand from shipping lines.

“With marine trade set to triple by 2050, we urgently need to build the global network of clean energy charging infrastructure the industry desperately needs. Our partnership with Peel Ports Group is the first step in this strategic approach to accelerate the adoption of clean energy in shipping and help cargo owners to reach net-zero.”

Stefano Sommadossi, CEO at NatPower Marine

Claudio Veritiero, CEO at Peel Ports Group, said: “The proposals presented as part of this partnership are potentially game-changing, and fully support our ambitions to become a net-zero port operator by 2040.

“We look forward to working closely with NatPower Marine to explore the possibilities for establishing the first green shipping corridor between the UK and Ireland, and further enabling support for our customers, shipping lines and hauliers as they transition to a greener future.”

Driving the marine industry towards Net Zero

With 95% of its trade transiting via ports, the UK is the natural starting point to decarbonise the marine industry, creating an opportunity for significant economic development in the process.

However, the sector also poses significant environmental challenges, accounting for more than 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) – more than Germany’s annual emissions. It also emits 15% of NOx and 13% of SOx globally.

One sixth of these emissions are produced whilst ships are berthed at port as they run auxiliary engines for power, which can have a significant impact on the environment and local communities around ports.

As regulation seeks to curtail these emissions and shipping lines increasingly electrify both at-port operations and at-sea propulsion, demand for clean energy is set to skyrocket. To decarbonise the industry 4 petawatt-hours (PWh) of clean energy per year is needed – equal to the annual electricity consumption of the USA.

NatPower Marine is taking a radically different approach to address this challenge, removing the biggest barrier to change – upfront investment. It will leverage its significant financial backing to build clean energy infrastructure at ports, that will enable electric propulsion and for ships to run on electricity while at berth or at anchor (“cold ironing”).

With infrastructure in place at ports and terminals across global shipping routes, shipping lines can have the confidence to transition their fleets, purchasing clean charging services directly from NatPower Marine at each port they service.

NatPower’s funding enables it to make significant up-front investments in port infrastructure. In April this year, NatPower Group further strengthened its financial position with an investment of approximately 50 million Euros from VINCI - a world leader in the concessions, energy and construction.

NatPower is also developing over 15GW of clean energy GigaParks projects in the UK, with 60GWh of battery storage capacity, crucial for balancing intermitted demand like electric ship requirements for propulsion and cold ironing. These GigaParks will provide stable clean electricity to NatPower Marine’s UK port network via direct Power Purchasing Agreements, or private wires.

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