Freeport East could play a key role in hydrogen-enabled shipping corridors, study shows

Freeport East, one of eight new Freeports in England covering an area within roughly 45 kilometers of the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich, holds the potential to become a key player in the development of hydrogen-enabled green shipping corridors as well as decarbonization of transport, a new study suggests.

Courtesy of Freeport East

The study published on September 12, 2023, outlines how Freeport East can facilitate international partnerships and investment necessary for the Green Hydrogen Hub to support maritime and wider transport sectors.

Key findings of the study show that:

  • Over 4,000 vessels pass through Freeport East each year, which creates a potential need for over 180 tonnes of hydrogen per day for green maritime fuels, or 450 MW of the new electrolyzer capacity;
  • Freeport East has significant container port capacity, which could have a critical role to play in the development of hydrogen-enabled green shipping corridors through partnering with international ports and shipping lines and brokering new global partnerships;
  • Investment in new local hydrogen refueling infrastructure would help reduce carbon emissions from A14 traffic flows, benefiting communities in Freeport East, Cambridge, and other parts of the UK; and
  • New hydrogen investment in the logistics sector could be triggered by strategic opportunities generated by the existing fuel stations and newer development sites in Felixstowe and along the A14.

The findings of the new study build on the research published earlier this year which also indicated a potential demand for 500 MW of hydrogen by 2030 in the Freeport East area.

Freeport East includes the UK’s biggest container port, Port of Felixstowe, and the main destination for container traffic to and from Europe and the Far East. These routes are central to many of the leading green corridor initiatives, which are seen as key to achieving ambitious maritime decarbonization objectives, Freeport East explains.

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While the shipping sector is expected to grow by 30-70% by 2050, 60% of new vessel orders in 2022 were for multi-fuel vessels, demonstrating that the transition to clean fuels is already moving at pace. By positioning Freeport East and the wider region into the rapidly growing clean fuels market, it could support many hundreds of skilled jobs and bring significant economic benefits to the local area.

Steve Beel, Chief Executive of Freeport East, said: “This latest report confirms our goal for Freeport East to act as a hub for transport decarbonization, reducing emissions both on land and at sea. It highlights opportunities to build new partnerships that will support maritime decarbonization on a global level, while also providing local economic and employment opportunities within the Freeport East area.”

Jehan Kanga of Rux Energy, an Australian company specializing in advanced materials development for hydrogen storage, is already working closely with Freeport East. Kanga stated: “We welcome the emphasis on international collaboration which this report highlights in relation to developing a cleaner maritime fuels sector, resonating with a number of bilateral clean technology agreements between the UK, Singapore, Australia, and other trading partners.

“Rux has already started building links from Australia into the UK, anchored from Freeport East. We are passionate about the need for global coordination to deliver an acceleration of the innovation needed for a cleaner maritime and transportation sector. Freeport East can act as a central player in bringing these international collaborations together and ensuring the UK and its trading partners benefit fully from the shared value generated from scale investment in maritime energy transition.”

One major green hydrogen supply project, led by Scottish Power and Hutchison Ports, is already under development in Felixstowe which, according to Freeport East, is already encouraging investment.

The companies are planning to use green hydrogen for onshore purposes, such as road, rail, and industrial use, with the potential to create liquid forms, such as green ammonia or e-methanol that could be used in shipping and aviation.

The project aims to continue engineering and site development works to align with customer demand from 2025 onwards.

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