DFDS, UK and French ports pursue green corridor on Dover Strait

Ferry operator DFDS, the Port of Dover, Port Boulogne Calais, and Dunkerque-Port have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on decarbonizing maritime traffic on the Dover Strait.

Image credit Dover Port

The agreement was reached at the recently held Anglo-French summit with the aim of accelerating efforts between the UK and France to establish green shipping corridors between the two nations.

The parties agreed on a joint program of work that will enable the electrification of maritime traffic on the Channel, building upon the momentum established by the work of the Green Corridor Short Straits consortium to investigate steps to decarbonise the cross-Channel ferry fleet, part-funded by the UK Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

The project is a collaboration between the Port of Dover, cross-Channel ferry operators, the University of Kent, and other key academic and industry stakeholders.

In parallel to work on its energy strategy, the Port of Dover has also launched commitments to be Carbon Net Zero for Scope 1 and 2 by 2025 and Scope 3 by 2030.

Dover Port authority said that the initiative will mean that carbon-neutral cross-Channel shipping, with zero emission battery-powered electric ferries and charging facilities at the ports, could be a reality by 2030.

“Being a partner in the green transition is a top priority for Europe’s ports. There is no time, no money to lose. Greening the shipping sector is both a technological and financial challenge. The best way to go forward is to think, engage, work and invest together. The MoU is a good example. Three ports and a shipping line creating a coalition of the willing to find the best way to effectively cut emissions as soon as possible and avoid stranded assets,” said Isabelle Ryckbost, secretary general, European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO).

Maurice Georges, CEO, Dunkerque-Port, said that as the first European energy hub, the Dunkirk industrial-port zone will be there to support this major ambition to create a green corridor. This initiative is also fully in line with the Dunkirk region’s decarbonization strategy led by the Urban Community of Dunkirk (CUD) and Euraenergy, of which Dunkerque-Port is a partner, he added.

DFDS has a short-term target to reduce relative CO2 emissions from ships by 45 percent by 2030, and a long-term target to become fully climate neutral by 2050.

The company runs six ships on its routes between Dover and France – three on the Dover to Calais service, and three on the Dover to Dunkirk service – with approximately 17,000 crossings made on the routes every year.

“The commitment by DFDS and our partner ports is an important step toward decarbonising cross-Channel transportation. It reflects the urgency of our decarbonisation efforts by committing us to the electrification of maritime traffic on the Channel before 2030,” Torben Carlsen, chief executive officer at DFDS, said.

“The MoU we have signed outlines our shared ambition to invest in the development and delivery of battery-powered electric or fuel-electric ferries and the infrastructure required to charge them in the ports. We have established a clear timeline and this is a key milestone in our work together to become carbon neutral.”

“Following the Clydebank declaration at the COP26 climate summit in 2021, the Port of Dover and its partners declared an ambition to become the world’s first high-volume green shipping corridor. Now we have the political ambition to match it. The commitment by the Port of Dover, DFDS and our French partner ports, together with the ongoing support of our two other ferry operators, puts us in the perfect position to drive the work of the newly announced France-UK taskforce to develop a roadmap toward the deployment of zero-emission technology and enabling infrastructure,” Doug Bannister, chief executive at the Port of Dover, said, adding that the port was well on track to achieve net-zero carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025.

France and the UK are signatories to the Clydebank Declaration for Green Shopping Corridors, showing intent to facilitate the establishment of green shipping corridors. The French government has also initiative the France Mer 2030 approach to decarbonise shipping and the UK government has a Clean Maritime Plan.