Green Hydrogen to Power Tugs at Leith Port in UK-First Trial

A consortium of four Scottish renewable and maritime companies have secured a UK Government grant of over £785,000 to develop an innovative UK-first approach that will use clean, green hydrogen energy to reduce carbon emissions from vessels when berthed in port.

A Circular Economy Approach to Port Decarbonisation

The year-long trial, run by partners Forth Ports, Waterwhelm, Logan Energy and PlusZero, will deliver a state-of-the-art demonstrator system for green hydrogen shore power which marine vessels can use when they are berthed, removing the need for the diesel-powered systems which are currently in use on some quaysides.

The project draws together leading Scottish innovation and technology with sustainability expertise from the water, energy and transport sectors, and will be the first of its kind to be demonstrated at a UK port – leading the way for a circular economy approach to port decarbonisation across the country, particularly in remote locations or areas where a connection to the main electricity grid is not available.

The project will act as a precursor to the deployment of green hydrogen in shore power supply to large ships and vessels, addressing an important challenge in decarbonising the maritime industry.

Green Hydrogen from Wastewater

The highly innovative trial will see the large tugs operating out of The Port of Leith powered by green hydrogen when tied up. The green hydrogen will be produced from wastewater from a nearby water treatment works, without compromising local water supplies.

Green Hydrogen

Using specialist water treatment technology provided by Waterwhelm, fresh re-use water will be made from wastewater from the treatment works site in Seafield, Edinburgh, which will then be used to produce hydrogen at Leith Port. Waterwhelm’s leading technology enables water re-use and desalination processes to operate at significantly lower pressure, providing lower maintenance benefits as well as a world-beating reduction in electricity consumption and carbon emissions.

The hydrogen will be stored in a containerised system at the port, and then supplied to the tugs via a mobile dispenser. The tugs will be fitted with hydrogen fuel cells, which will convert the hydrogen into electricity to power the vessels’ onboard systems when they are berthed.

A Net Zero Future for Forth Ports

The trial is supported by Forth Ports, the UK’s third largest ports group, which owns and operates eight commercial ports across the UK. Forth Ports has committed to reduce carbon emissions across its group operations by 2032, and becoming net zero by 2042.

Alasdair Smith, Commercial Director of Targe Towing, part of the Forth Ports group, said: “This is an exciting project for Forth Ports and Targe Towing as we work towards our commitment to reduce carbon emissions across Forth Ports group operations by 2032, and becoming net zero by 2042.

Our tug fleet currently uses diesel-powered generators to provide electricity when tied up in port. This new green hydrogen system shows how tugs or other vessels can be completely emission-free whilst berthed.

The project will also serve to widen our knowledge and experience of working with hydrogen, which provides a foundation for future endeavours towards a net zero future. We look forward to starting this project with our partners in the Spring.”

A UK Government Grant for Green Transport

The project is one of 31 schemes across the UK to receive a share of £20 million in the latest round of funding from the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, delivered by Innovate UK as part of the UK Government’s Clean Maritime Plan.

The competition aims to support the development of innovative clean maritime and smart shipping technologies that will help the UK achieve net zero emissions from the maritime sector by 2050.

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said: “As a proud maritime nation, we are committed to leading the way in decarbonising our maritime sector and building back greener.

That’s why we’re investing in trials of new green hydrogen technology at the Port of Leith, which will not only lead to less pollution and noise from port operations, but also set an example for other ports to follow.

By harnessing the power of green technology, we’ll pave the way to a cleaner, greener future for our seas.”

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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