New partnership plots £100m electrification of Irish Sea ports

Plans for a new ‘green shipping corridor’ for the Irish Sea have been revealed, with NatPower Marine investing £100m to electrify eight ports operated by Peel Ports Group.

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Dockside charging for ships, cars, vans and HGVs will be rolled out across the ports, with Belfast-Heysham and Dublin-Birkenhead set to be the first routes to benefit. According to NatPower Marine, the project will create the UK’s first commercial electric ship (e-ship) charging network to support electric propulsion and ‘cold ironing’, where ships can access clean power while docked to avoid engine emissions.

In total, over 3,000 vessels cross the Irish Sea each year, emitting 230,000 tonnes of CO2, 20,000 tonnes of nitrous oxide (NOx), and 18,000 of sulphur oxide (SOx). Globally, shipping makes up around three per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, with one-sixth of these produced whilst ships are berthed at port as they run auxiliary engines for power.

The new plans mark the first step in a new £3bn global charging network planned by NatPower Marine for 120 port locations worldwide by 2030. The company will develop the sites in partnership with port operators and act as the long-term operator of the global charging network. NatPower Marine believes this investment will allow ship owners and operators to invest in electric technologies, knowing the infrastructure is there to support them.

“NatPower Marine is investing to deploy the largest global network of charging points to help solve the ‘chicken and egg conundrum’ facing this industry,” Stefano Sommadossi, CEO at NatPower Marine said in a statement. “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.” 

Peel Ports Group is the UK’s second largest port operator, owning and operating six major UK ports (Liverpool, Heysham, Manchester Ship Canal, London Medway, Clydeport and Great Yarmouth) as well as a container terminal in Dublin and a dry bulk terminal on the Humber estuary. As part of the new plan, Peel Ports Group and Natpower Marine intend for Heysham Port in Lancashire to become the UK’s first ‘net zero port’. It’s claimed Heysham has already cut the emissions of its landside plant, equipment and vehicles by up to 90 per cent. 

 “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,” said Claudio Veritiero, CEO at Peel Ports Group.

“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.”