Categories: Cromarty Firth, DP World, Environment and Renewables, Kirkwall, London, Port of London Authority, PortsmouthPublished On: 10.01.20212259 words11.3 min read

Greener ports, greener supply chains
Not so very long ago, being ‘green’ was something of an added extra, a ‘nice to have’ quality for ports. Not any longer. With sustainability now firmly centre stage for the whole shipping industry, ports must also play their part in reducing carbon and protecting the environment.
Social media and generally increased public awareness mean that ports must not only do the right thing for the environment and their communities – but they must be seen to do the right thing. Organisations such as AIVP, the worldwide network of port cities, have pointed out – a port’s local ‘licence to operate’ and the reaction from residents and politicians to any future plans for expansion can depend upon issues such as air quality, noise or traffic congestion.
“Sustainability is a serious issue for ports and we’re determined to play a significant part in making sure Portsmouth continues to offers an environmentally sound facility and infrastructure, for both our customers and the local community,” says Mike Sellers, port director at Portsmouth International Port. “As an industry we are part of the solution, rather than the issue, when it comes to sustainable transport.”
As a municipally owned operation, Portsmouth is a ‘smaller size port that has big ambitions on sustainability’, he says. “We are moving towards sustainability and improved air quality, even in the shipping that we handle. We are one of the front-runners looking to become a zero-emission port. Definitely sustainability and air quality are top priorities for Portsmouth City Council.”
The Port of London Authority was the first port in the UK to offer a discount for oceangoing vessels with lower emissions. When it was first introduced in 2017, the Green Tariff offered a 5% discount on port charges for ships with an ESI score of 30 or above. This was doubled to 10% in 2019. From 2020, there will be a two-tier system, with a 20% discount applying to vessels with an ESI score of 50 or more.
“By increasingly raising the bar, we continue to provide an incentive for improvement,” says PLA chief executive Robin Mortimer. “With up to 50 ports globally now offering a ‘green’ discount, shipping lines with high-ESI scores can really see a difference in terms of costs.”
The PLA was also the first port authority in the UK to deliver an Air Quality Strategy, setting clear targets for reducing emissions. Its environment manager, Tanya Ferry, was seconded to the DfT on a part-time basis to write guidance for all major English
ports, to help them to deliver air quality strategies required by the end of 2020 within the DfT’s Clean Maritime Plan.
And ports are delivering clear results – DP World London Gateway recently won an award for carbon reduction at The Planet Mark’s national awards. The Planet Mark noted that the port reduced its carbon emissions by 24.9% per TEU from 2017 to 2018, and also achieved carbon reductions of 18% during the construction of the multi-temperature CEVA Logistics warehouse at the London Gateway logistics park.
As the home of the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), Orkney has test sites for wave and tidal devices – including incubator sites within the harbour area, and full-scale sites just outside. Orkney also has a wide range of wind turbines owned across the range of individual, council, community and commercial operators.
“Between wind and tide, Orkney produces 125% of its energy needs and hence is challenged with how to store this,” says Brian Archibald, Orkney Islands Council head of marine services, engineering and transport and harbour master. “The solution is through hydrogen production.”
The Port of Cromarty Firth, meanwhile, supports one in six jobs in the Invergordon area while operating in one of the most protected areas in the country. The Firth contains many SSSIs and SPAs, a Special Area of Conservation and RAMSAR sites. Every activity must take this sensitive environment into account, and the port’s activities range from ensuring the safe nesting of terns to supplying equipment for monitoring the Firth’s otter and dolphin populations.
Freight by water
The official opening of Peruvian Wharf, on the River Thames, in 2019 was the culmination of a 17-year planning and legal battle by the Port of London Authority, which finally was able to acquire the site for £3 million in order to bring it back into use.
Peruvian Wharf, now being used by Brett Aggregates, is an important success within the Mayor of London’s ‘safeguarding’ policy, which protects 50 strategically placed wharfs for cargo handling, ensuring they do not get swallowed up by housing developments. It is also a key part of an ongoing PLA campaign which has seen hundreds of thousands of tonnes of freight shift from road to river in recent years.
The PLA’s Thames Vision set a target of 4 million tonnes of freight per year to be carried by river; that target has almost been met already, and the totals do not include major infrastructure projects such as the Tideway “super sewer” being excavated underneath London.
While the river provides a clear environmental benefit (compared with road) for moving freight, the PLA is also focused on sustainability and environmental improvements across the whole port operation. Is also considering the introduction of a ‘Green Tariff’ discount scheme for intra-port traffic.
During London International Shipping Week, the PLA held a ‘Greening Inland Shipping’ conference, which discussed new fuels and technologies to reduce emissions from inland vessels, along with the economics, finances, drivers for innovation and a range of solutions and case studies.
In 2019, the PLA took delivery of the Leader, the UK’s first hybrid pilot cutter. The authority has launched a roadmap exercise with sustainable energy consultant E4tech, and it is part of the Cross River Partnership which has been granted £500,000 from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund to retrofit 11 river vessels with the aim of cutting their emissions by up to 90%.
‘Green’ infrastructure
Portsmouth International Port’s ferry terminal, opened in 2011, was designed with the environment in mind and has a BREEAM rating of ‘very good’. It features the harvesting of rainwater to flush toilets, wind catchers on the roof to cool/heat the building and LED lighting.
A new linkspan installed at Berth 4 in 2018 benefited from European funding support due to its use of sustainable technology. Provided as part of the European Interreg 2 Seas Ports Energy and Carbon Savings project, the facility has soft-start electric motors, LED lighting and higher quality steel to increase longevity from 25 years to 35 years. “The berth gained €500,000 of Interreg funding towards the total £9 million investment, because it uses sustainable technology,” says Mr Sellers. “Energy use and energy cost have reduced when compared to the previous linkspan.”
The port is preparing to welcome Brittany Ferries’ Honfleur in 2020 2021; the first passenger ferry operating in the Channel to be call in the UK that is powered by LNG, she will be joined by two more similar ferries by 2023.
Around the port, there has been investment in smart LED lighting, reducing energy use for lighting by around 60%. Solar panels have been installed on most of the warehousing and the port will install more solar panels on the site in the next few months, to generate another 1MW of renewable energy. Plans have also been submitted for a landside wind turbine and the port was successful in receiving funding hopes to secure a successful funding bid to install the latest air quality monitoring technology, so the effects of the green investment can be assessed
Portico, which operates the cargo terminal at the port, has invested in a fleet of electric forklift trucks.
The port’s multi million pound berth extension has been completed and next steps are to make it shore power ready. This is complemented by the arrival of a 20-foot container sized battery that can charge four electric cars simultaneously. The battery is the centrepiece of the cutting-edge Port Energy Systems Optimisation (PESO) project, demonstrating how a port can operate as a smart energy network.
“The city council has committed to being carbon neutral by 2030 and we are committing the same on the landside of the port,” says Mr Sellers. “Being council-owned as opposed to privately owned is a plus. The council is very conscious of the environment they are in, as well as the profit the port makes.”
In Orkney, Mr Archibald says: “Scapa Flow is the world’s second largest natural harbour and its waters are pristine – clean enough to enable merchant ships to produce potable water in harbour – despite it being an oil port and the main North European site for ship-to-ship operations. Our marine biologists test the beaches and water on a continuous basis – they have a world reputation for testing for non-native species in ballast water. The harbour procedures for ballast water are the most rigorous in the UK – testing and pre-arrival exchange and treatment in order to protect the numerous marine protected areas and the Natura site at the Loch of Stenness.”
In a project known as ‘Surf N Turf’, an electrolyser on Kirkwall Pier converts hydrogen produced in Orkney from wind/tide back into electricity, to provide shore power to internal ferries while they are berthed overnight. In the Big Hit project, hydrogen produced on the outer islands is brought to Kirkwall Harbour to supply a hydrogen vehicle refuelling station. Recent van purchases have been electric vehicles, and the harbour now has access to council-owned hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Orkney also has the world’s largest floating tidal turbine (2MW) and the world’s most productive wave energy machine.
Meanwhile, the world’s first major ship-to-ship transfer of LNG took place at Scapa Flow on Orkney and the council is working with partners Exxon, Bernhard Schulte, Babcock and Calor in Caledonia LNG to develop Scotland’s first LNG bunkering hub. “LNG is seen as the transition fuel to zero carbon for larger ships – 30% of cruise ships under construction will be LNG fuelled, and Orkney is the UK’s busiest cruise destination, with 170 ships in 2019,” says Mr Archibald.
Within the port, lighting has been replaced with LED, there are several heat pump projects for shore buildings, with heat exchangers in the harbour waters and an electric bus charging point is installed at Stromness Pier.
A 1.5MW system is under construction at Stromness to provide shore electricity to the Hamnavoe Stromness-Scrabster ro-ro ferry while it is berthed – this will cut fuel consumption by the equivalent of 860 diesel cars and eliminate noise. Piers at Stromness, Kirkwall and Lyness are being built and/or extended to provide more facilities for the deployment and maintenance of marine renewable energy devices.
Orkney’s marine and ferry services are members of the EU Horizon 2020 HYDIME project, a hydrogen ferry consortium set up to test a hydrogen marine power plant; if successful, the project will lead to the construction of a hydrogen ro-ro ferry for trials and use in Orkney, with Scottish government funding.
The Port of Cromarty Firth won the sustainability award at the Maritime UK awards, with judges praising the port for showing evidence of its ‘exceptional true commitment to sustainability’, creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a business operates in the ecological, social and economic environment.
“The Port of Cromarty Firth is driven to develop, improve and safeguard the Firth for the benefit of all stakeholders,” says Bob Buskie, chief executive.
Priding itself on its economic, social and environmental credentials, the port follows the UN environmental, social and economic sustainability framework, has doubled its headcount, and has delivered widespread community engagement programmes and environmental initiatives.
A £31 million quayside expansion under way and a £10 million contract from Moray East Offshore Wind Farm will provide a sustainable future for the supply chain and local employees, says the port authority. “The development of a renewable energy cluster will generate further training, innovation and inward investment.”
The port authority holds regular port user and community group forums, talks to schools to help educate the future workforce, runs a community sponsorship programme, and helps local unemployed people and ex-offenders to prepare for the job market.
Electric vehicles
DP World London Gateway uses electric or hybrid vehicles where possible and has has partnered with Kalmar to trial the first ever fully electric shuttle carrier – which charges in just six minutes. It also has a policy is that all new warehouses built in the London Gateway Logistics Park produce minimal carbon emissions, during construction and through operation.
Other commitments to sustainability include installing solar panels on terminal tractors, scrapping single-use plastic and working with the PLA on in-river litter collectors.
Through the Oceans Together Forum, a taskforce of Essex-based businesses set up in 2018, DP World London Gateway is working with suppliers across a range of industries, from car manufacturing to food producers, to eradicate single-use plastics from the supply chain. “This is a goal that we share with retailers and can work together to achieve, while benefiting from the medium and long-term cost savings this creates. Even the small act of swapping out plastic seat covers for reusable fabric ones has saved one of our partners, an independent car garage, money in the medium-long term, says DP World London Gateway. The project achieved an overall reduction of 12,800 kg of single-use plastic in its first year.
“DP World London Gateway has been designed and built to ensure that supply chains are better for the environment. An automated port built on the same site as sustainably built warehouses, both located a short drive from one of Western Europe’s most densely populated consumer areas, enables retailers to reduce their carbon footprint. This set up and geographical positioning offers huge environmental benefits,” says DP World