Portsmouth International Port

Portsmouth Port powers up with solar

Portsmouth International Port has completed the installation of its new solar and battery system which is now fully operational.

Image credit Portsmouth International Port

The system is comprised of 2,660 solar panels, providing an impressive 35% of the site’s electricity, enabling the port to move one step closer to becoming one of the UK’s first net carbon-neutral ports.

The solar system is complemented by an onsite battery with a capacity of 1.3 megawatt hours, which can power a typical home for four months. It captures renewable energy, which would otherwise be exported to the local electricity network, and redirects it to the port’s buildings when required.

The battery and new solar system work in conjunction with each other, providing balancing services to the national grid and storing power during periods of lower pricing.

The system is managed by the in-house energy services and building services teams of Portsmouth City Council, installed by Custom Solar, and assisted by engineers at the port.

The project began in February 2022 and incorporates roof-mounted solar panels across a number of buildings, a large battery and solar canopies.

As well as generating carbon-free power, the solar canopies will provide shade for cars waiting to board ferries; allowing them to stay cooler for longer, without having to run their engines.

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The last piece of the project was finalised in July 2023, where an upgraded connection to the national grid allowed the full potential of the 1.2 megawatt peak system to be realised.

“It’s great to see this project switched on and using greener energy to power such an important part of Portsmouth. This will reduce carbon emissions by 239 tonnes, a huge step in the right direction for our Net Zero Carbon by 2030 target,” Cllr Kimberly Barrett, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment at Portsmouth City Council, said.

“This huge solar installation and battery storage facility will help the port reach our ambitious sustainability goals. Energy consumption at the port is already down 33% on last year so I’m excited to see what we can achieve in the future,” Elly Howe, environmental and sustainability coordinator at Portsmouth International Port added.

“Along with our project partners, I’d like also like to thank Brittany Ferries, the port’s biggest customer, for helping to accommodate the work throughout some of the busiest times of the year.”

“Portsmouth City Council are very forward thinking in their renewable ambitions and we are very proud to have supported them by developing and delivering this major solar and storage project. The project demonstrates how solar can be integrated into areas of land in busy operational sites such as this and we look forward to working with the council on future projects,” Gary Sucharewycz, Development Director at Custom Solar said.

It’s all part of an integrated approach that will also help the port offer shore power for smaller ships, without having to take extra power from the local electricity grid.

Portsmouth International Port is working on the expansion of its shore-power capabilities. Namely, the port authoirty recently inked a deal with Scottish and Southern Energy Network (SSEN) to secure extra power for its plug-in infractrsuture at berth enabling the port to support multiple ships and reduce emissions.

Installation of the shore power infrastructure is expected to be completed by 2025, in time for the company’s major customer Brittany Ferries, who has two new hybrid ships which will operate from Portsmouth the same year, with the remaining fleet being converted to shore power by early 2027.

The port also expects a minimum of 100 shore power ready cruise calls by 2026,  and by 2030 there is an expectation from industry trade body CLIA all cruise vessels will need to be shore power compliant.