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Chris Grayling      Nusrat Ghani



Chris Grayling and Nus Ghani



Infrastructure for Zero Emission Shipping - Commitment In conjunction with a working group as part of the Clean Maritime Council, Government will undertake a study to identify and support potential UK zero emission shipping clusters.


96. The Government’s Maritime 2050 Strategy contained the following commitments:


● Government will work to better understand the capacity of the UK’s energy networks to support an increase in demand for green energy from our ports and shipping sectors. It will also consider the role the maritime and offshore renewables sectors can play in decentralised energy generation.


● Government will review the environmental and economic case for coastal shipping, and whether the government should play a greater role in encouraging modal shift.

97. In line with the commitments in the Clean Air Strategy, the Government will also publish guidelines to advise ports on how to develop effective and targeted Air Quality Strategies.

98. The Government has also commissioned a report on Coastal Shipping and Inland Waterway Transport, to better understand the barriers, challenges and market opportunities of coastal shipping and inland waterways within the current freight landscape. The report will model different scenarios for freight transport in 2050. Dependent on the outcome of this report, and the Call for Evidence on domestic vessels in UK waters, further research may be necessary to determine the potential emissions savings from short sea shipping if alternative low or zero emission fuels are in use.

99. The Clean Maritime Council identified the issue of integration between maritime energy demand and supply as a significant barrier to zero emissions shipping. The Council formed the Energy Systems Integration task and finish group bringing together representatives from outside the Council to consider the subject. Discussions focussed on the emerging demand scenarios for alternative fuelling in the Maritime sector. It is expected that there is merit in further discussions at a national level on the possible pathways to zero emissions, and the necessary infrastructure to implement them. Government will therefore undertake a study to identify and support the development of zero emission shipping clusters.

Background - Bunkering of alternative fuels

100. Figure 6 illustrates how landside infrastructure could operate in a future scenario where vessels operate using zero emissions fuels.

101. The Clean Maritime Council Task and Finish Group on Energy Systems Integration highlighted the need to consider the challenge of providing infrastructure for alternative fuel transportation and bunkering around the UK. There are a number of challenges to bunkering alternative fuels that need to be addressed. Broadly these fall into three main categories. 


● Regulatory: the need for the development of, and compliance with, new safety regulations for storage of alternative fuels. In  addition, there may be issues associated with planning permission for new bunkering infrastructure.


● Investment: as the upfront capital cost of providing infrastructure associated with alternative fuels may be substantial for an individual port


● Market: a need to co-ordinate across the sector to give ports greater certainty that the ships using its infrastructure will be compatible.

102. Not all these challenges are unique to the maritime sector. Similar challenges will be faced across other transport modes and other economic sectors as the UK moves towards zero emissions. The Government’s forthcoming Energy White Paper, due later this year, will take account of such challenges across economic sectors. The investment challenges must also be considered in future work considering economic incentives for the sector (see ‘Economics’ above).

103. A systems approach to the development of alternative shipping fuel bunkering – whereby maritime needs are integrated within a wider, cross-economy picture of alternative fuelling demand and supply – may help reduce costs and maximise opportunities by aligning signals for investment across various market actors.

104. With this multi-sector approach, it will be possible to identify regional and UK wide areas of specific advantage. There are already projects working on this basis – for instance the case study below outlines the potential for hydrogen production from wind power, and the specific regional advantage this poses to areas of the UK.

105. To assist in the development of a systems approach to the development of alternative fuel bunkering in the UK, the Government in conjunction with the Clean Maritime Council will undertake a study on zero emission shipping clusters. This study will include a detailed assessment of the infrastructure required to enable the uptake of alternative fuelled vessels. This will include consideration of the refuelling requirements of vessels, as well as whether there are particular geographic locations suitable for the production, storage and distribution of alternative fuels for shipping including any dependencies or synergies with other economic sectors such as heating or other transport modes. The study will consider the issues of sustainability of alternative fuel production, noting where clusters have particular advantages in producing fuels with the greatest emission reduction potential (e.g. CCUS opportunities and renewable energy availability). It will also take into account opportunities as well as safety and cost challenges related to, integration with the wider energy system and work ongoing to decarbonise the wider freight system (e.g. with regards to HGV and rail).

106. Table 2 below, for instance, sets out interesting potential hotspots in the UK for clean maritime fuel generation, storage or distribution. It is by no means exhaustive, and many other locations in the UK are expected to have relevant clusters of experience, demand and supply advantages. 


107. The Clean Maritime Council will establish a working group to help guide this study, which will be fed into national strategic cross-Government work, for instance, related to the Energy White Paper



108. Electrification in the maritime sector may take the form of:


● Shore-side power (powering vessels’ auxiliary systems for vessels at berth, also referred to as cold-ironing)


● Hybrid electric vessels (the use of electric motors & batteries to complement other energy sources such as diesel engines)


● Fully electric vessels (the use of electric motors & batteries)

● Electric charging for port operations (e.g. powering non-road mobile machinery such as cranes).

109. Research commissioned by the Government estimates that alternative fuels will play the most significant role in reducing emissions from UK shipping, with electric propulsion playing a smaller role relatively [77]. In particular, this research suggests that electric propulsion options may be focused predominantly on smaller vessels that operate on shorter routes, such as ferry crossings. However, these conclusions are sensitive to several assumptions about, for instance, the capital costs of batteries.

110. Despite alternative fuels being expected to play a more significant role, research commissioned by the Government estimates that UK ports are still likely to see total electricity demand increase significantly by 2050 [78]. Without any further policy intervention, this research estimates that the total annual electricity demand at UK ports could rise from 20 GWh in 2016 to around 250 GWh by around 2050, largely driven by the demand for shore-power from container vessels. In contrast, under a scenario in which there are very ambitious assumptions about maritime electrification, this research estimates that annual electrical demand at UK major ports could rise to over 4000 GWh by around 2050, predominantly be driven by demand for electric propulsion, but with demand for shore-side power also expected to increase significantly.

111. This research explains that a significant increase in electricity demand in ports would require ports to invest in charging infrastructure and potentially to apply for increased capacity from the electricity network. The scale of connection required to a port will be influenced by the forecasted peak load (maximum energy demand within a certain timeframe that needs to be accommodated) [79]. For an illustration of potential scales of peak total demand, the research estimates that the potential peak load could range from around 9 MW for a small port to around 79 MW for a large port80.

112. As demand for electrification is expected to be driven by particular vessel types, demand for electrical capacity in ports is not expected to be uniform across the UK’s ports.

113. The research also explored the barriers to port electrification and identified the following potential barriers:


● split incentives to invest and coordination failures between ports and the shipping industry;
● imperfect information on abatement options;
● existing infrastructure and onboard technologies;
● the cost of capital; and ● regulatory constraints.

114. Consultation indicates that, in particular, constraints on existing local network capacity may be particularly challenging.

115. Given the potential role of port electrification for zero emissions shipping, further research on routes to overcoming these barriers will be included in the study undertaken by Government in partnership with the Clean Maritime Council on zero emission shipping clusters. The results of this study will be fed into national strategic cross-Government work, for instance, related to the Energy White Paper. Public procurement, subsidy and licensing regimes

116. The Government’s Maritime 2050 Strategy contained the following commitment:


● Government will consider how public procurement, subsidy and licensing regimes can be used to increase the uptake of green technologies e.g. for vessels supporting the offshore energy sectors.

117. The publicly-owned civilian fleet is very small, and is largely comprised of highly specialised vessels. Environmental performance is a key part of the assessment criteria during fleet replacement. Over the coming years, Government will continue to ensure that the fleet renewal process takes into account opportunities to embed the reduction of emissions of GHGs and air quality pollutants from new vessels.

118. Besides the publicly owned fleet, certain segments of the UK maritime fleet may have certain characteristics which may allow for faster or more extensive reductions in emissions. Vessels associated with the UK’s offshore energy sector may be of particular interest. Activities supporting the offshore oil & gas sector tend to be clustered, with a particularly strong cluster of support vessels based out of Aberdeen.

119. The UK also has the world’s largest installed capacity of offshore wind. The construction, operation and decommissioning of these installations involves a substantial volume of vessel traffic. This activity is expected to increase as, under the recent agreement of an offshore wind sector deal, this capacity is expected to grow to 30 GW of installed capacity by 2030. The sector itself has launched an initiative aiming to reduce emissions from its support vessels (see case study: Offshore Wind Accelerator Vessel Decarbonisation Programme), including consideration of electric charging of vessels direct from offshore wind turbines.

120. The potential infrastructure development opportunities associated with geographic aggregations of this offshore energy activity will be considered as part of the study undertaken into zero-emission shipping clusters (see above). Synergies with the offshore renewable energy industry will also be taken into account in this study. This may include, for instance, consideration of novel ideas such as the future potential for offshore synthetic-fuel generation fuelled by offshore wind generation alongside the use of empty gas reservoirs, platforms and pipelines for distribution [81].



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Grant Shapps - Secretary of State for Transport 2021




The Knowledge Transfer Network is Innovate UK’s network partner, and also provides innovation networking for other funders in line with its mission to drive UK growth.

The Department for Transport works with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation Clean Maritime Plan and supports the transition to Net Zero by 2050 in line with the International Maritime Organization's (IMO's) targets for zero emission shipping.




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