National Grid and Siemens’ new tool to help decarbonise UK ports

UK-based National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) and German Siemens have teamed up to launch a decarbonisation tool that will help UK ports meet their net-zero targets.

With the support and guidance from the British Ports Association (BPA), the decarbonisation tool is expected to help ports forecast the future infrastructure required to meet the potential increased demand for electricity from zero-emission port operations.

“UK Ports and the Maritime sector have a crucial role to play in meeting future net-zero targets. With the support of the decarbonisation tool, UK ports can begin to plan their transition to alternative fuel-powered vessels using energy from low or zero-emission sources, as well as the integration of ports into the decarbonised energy network”, said Mark Simmonds, director of Policy & External Affairs at BPA.

The partners aim to help accelerate the transition with this tool by modelling future peak demand for electricity and give an estimate of the connections required, both to the local distribution network and the national transmission system.

As explained, the tool asks questions about the assets a port has on-site, from the number of berths, and types of cranes, to the number of car parking spaces, and matches it with estimates of the peak power demand for the site.

The decarbonisation tool is offered in two versions. One version makes assessments based on the asset information input while the other version is customisable, allowing the port to change the assumptions if appropriate.

According to NGET, the idea is to make this free online tool simple to use and to give ports preliminary guidance to allow for a more detailed insight to meet their requirements.

“We are very keen to encourage ports to interact with us. The tool has been developed in the best interests of the port operators to help us plan together with a decarbonised future. Through early collaboration, we can identify the infrastructure required and ensure a smooth transition to a cleaner world”, said Russell Fowler, senior project manager for Decarbonisation of Transport at National Grid.

“This tool will help ports get a better idea of what their options are when it comes to electrification. Ports are used to planning for the long term”, added Lynsey Jeffers, Siemens’ Smart Infrastructure Sector lead for UK Ports.

“Port infrastructure, plant and machinery lasts for decades and a lot of the thinking, planning and investment in lowering emissions from ships and ports needs to happen sooner rather than later. We hope that this will make that task a little bit easier”.

The maritime sector is said to be responsible for 5% of UK transport emissions, with the predominant use of diesel fuel for powering vehicles and equipment.

It is also estimated that between now and around 2050, the annual electricity demand across the ports could increase to around 250 GWh under a “business as usual” scenario and to more than 4,000 GWh under an ambitious emission reduction scenario.

“If ports are to meet their net-zero targets, the demand for clean energy will need to be increased and ports will likely need completely new connections for transmission. Also, NGET will need to invest in the network for the increased capacity which could include a range of upgrades to substations and circuits”, said NGET.

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