Portsmouth Port rolls out PESO smart energy project as part of net-zero drive

Portsmouth International Port, working with Swanbarton, ESC and MSE International, piloted the PESO smart energy system as part of a strategy to significantly decarbonise the port’s energy operations. 

Portsmouth International Port

The Port Energy Systems Optimisation (PESO) project has demonstrated how ports can use smart grid technology and energy storage to decarbonise their activities, and reduce their adverse impact on air quality.

Credit: Portsmouth International Port

“The energy transition is imposing change along the complete maritime value chain and ports have a crucial role to play. We are delighted to help find the solutions that ports will depend on in the future,” Jonathan Williams, CEO of Marine South East, said.

The PESO technical capability has been demonstrated in a pilot system comprising a novel dual chemistry battery and a multi-level control system. Specifically, the control system includes an AI-based capability that learns from historic energy consumption profiles to ensure that the battery can deliver as much energy as possible when demand is high.

The technology has been extended further by engineering a predictive ‘digital twin’ model that can ensure the battery has the storage capacity to fully use energy generated by on-site renewable generation or procured from the grid at times of low price.

This combined capability to minimise the cost of energy needed to supply vessels with energy and to drive the port’s own assets is a critical aspect of the PESO value proposition, the port noted.

The project, co-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has shown how port infrastructure can meet the UK Government’s ‘Clean Maritime Plan’ challenges, according to the partners.

Furthermore, PESO has explored a range of business models that may offer practical ways forward for ports to take on this role. Whilst every port will need to make its own choice depending on its access to different energy resources, it seems likely that most ports will contract with a third party provider to build and operate the PESO system. 

The prime ‘early adopter’ ports are likely to be in locations where vessels are obliged imminently to electrify in order to comply with policy developments in carbon emissions and air quality. Examples include passenger ferries and water taxis operating in cities where traditional fossil-fuelled combustion engines are not permitted.

“Terminals and recharging sites will be required and PESO has a critical role to play in minimising costly impacts on the local grid. It will do this by smoothing the power demand of the recharging sites and by prioritising as much power draw as possible at times of excess capacity in the grid (eg at night). The energy stored in PESO can then be made available to vessels when needed,” according to the port.

The PESO consortium is actively working on a range of actions to advance the commercial deployment of PESO during 2023.

“Our aim is to turn the port into a living laboratory of green technology. We were delighted to collaborate with partners on the PESO project, which has so much potential for the wider ports and shipping industry. Combined with other sustainability initiatives, the findings from the PESO project will help us achieve our ambition of reaching net-carbon zero by 2030, and becoming one of the UK’s first zero emission ports by 2050,” Mike Sellers, Port Director at Portsmouth International Port concluded.