Ministers urged to back shore power tech to cut shipping industry’s emissions

The shipping industry needs to decarbonise, according to Maritime UK

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Britain risks being left behind in a shipping revolution designed at making the industry more environmentally-friendly, an expert warns tonight.

The UK has no big shore power facilities to charge electric battery-fuelled vessels – technology seen as key to slashing emissions and powering the “Teslas of the sea” in decades to come.

Analysts say shipping is responsible for up to three per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – meaning decarbonisation is vital to hit the UK's 2050 net zero target.

Trade body Maritime UK said pumping cash into shore power was key to cutting pollution from the sector – and called for £200million to build “a viable charging network”.

Chief executive Ben Murray said: “If the Government wants to continue demonstrating international leadership on the climate it must turn the tide on its financial backing for green maritime.

Maritime UK director Ben Murray
(Image: Maritime UK)

“Shore power is an idea whose time has come, for reducing emissions at ports today and for powering the Teslas of the seas of tomorrow.”

Shore power provides electric charge points which can replenish battery-powered ships in port. It also allows crews to switch off engines while vessels are berthed.

While the Port of Southampton is installing shore power facilities expected to be operational next year, none is currently up and running in Britain, according to Maritime UK’s research, produced by Dutch-based consultants, Royal HaskoningDHV.

In contrast, rival maritime powers have been investing in the technology.

The US has 10 shore power facilities, Norway has 11, Sweden has eight, China has six, Canada has five, Germany four, and there are three each in Denmark, France and Italy, according to the study.

Britain's North Sea counterparts Belgium and the Netherlands each have two.

Mr Murray branded battery-powered ships the "Teslas of the seas"
(Image: SWNS)

All the foreign facilities have been at least part-funded by national governments, which have injected tens of millions of pounds, the report says.

The Port of Hamburg aims to become Europe's first to offer shore power supply for large container ships and all cruise vessels.

The German government will provide €42m (£36m) towards the €75m (£64.2m) total construction costs.

Mr Murray warned the UK was “towards the bottom” when it came to shore power “investment in infrastructure and technology”, and said about £800m was also needed to develop environmentally-friendly engines.

He added: “These projects are shovel ready across our coast, but to start building these, alongside the green propulsion solutions of the future, the sector will need £1billion of government investment.

“Net-zero maritime is not a project for any one country – we are a global industry, and above all else, the environment is our one, shared home.

“The scale of the challenge to reach net zero remains huge.

“We can get there, but it is a journey that the global industry and our international leaders must take together.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “The maritime industry has long been a cornerstone of the UK’s economy and as we build back better and greener from the pandemic we want to capitalise on this competitive advantage to become leaders in green shipping.

“Already we have invested over £20m into making maritime transport greener and further plans to ramp up our efforts will be published in the Transport Decarbonisation Plan later this year.”

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