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Cleaning up the maritime sector

Leading the way in developing clean maritime technology

Published on: 22 September 2021

Two University and industry projects have been backed by the Department of Transport (DfT) as winners of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

This will see £23m in total invested in a number of initiatives to reduce emissions from the maritime sector.

Clean Tyne will create a blueprint for the decarbonisation of the UK’s ports, while CLEANFERRY will help transform the carbon footprint of ferry services across the Tyne.  

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Clean Tyne

Clean Tyne will help determine the future power needs of the Port of Tyne by deploying a real-time digital platform for scenario planning and feasibility studies. This will be a partnership with Siemens, the Port of Tyne, Connected Places Catapult and the North East LEP. Understanding its current and forecast power usage as well as its infrastructure opportunities will enable the port to define its path to decarbonisation – and ultimately achieve its vision of becoming a net-zero port.

The project consortium will build on the partners extensive technical expertise, academic research and wider industry knowledge to integrate multi-vector renewable energy information into the purpose-built digital port platform. This will allow them to determine which renewable energy implementations will offer the greatest benefits to the port and what capacity it will need from the grid going forward.

Dr Haris Patsios, Senior Lecturer in Power Systems, Newcastle University, said“This project presents a fantastic opportunity to apply novel concepts of digitalisation in real-world energy systems. We are excited to have the opportunity to research and develop new solutions for ports that cut across energy systems, marine transport, and data, in collaboration with industry and other innovators, helping reduce carbon emissions.”

Ian Blake, Head of Innovation and Technology at the Port of Tyne said: “We are delighted to have been granted this funding by the DfT which is testament to the expertise, research and collaboration of the consortium.

The project will deliver outputs that show real benefits to decarbonisation across the UK Port Sector and be the backbone for future developments in that space. Using the 2050 Innovation Hub at the Port of Tyne, the first of its kind aligned to Maritime 2050, gives us the perfect platform to demonstrate and disseminate the learnings and outputs with all ports in the UK.”

This work will enable the Port of Tyne to evaluate the benefits of introducing new technology solutions before implementing them, minimising the risks involved. It will focus on multiple areas including optimised operations, grid compliance and flexibility, enhanced communications using 5G, the electrification of shipping and logistics, the reduction or avoidance of fossil fuels and the development of new digital skills.

The digital platform will play a fundamental role in the port’s decarbonisation journey by supporting the creation of business cases, budget planning and investment cases. It will also allow the project consortium to assess the technical, environmental and economic impact of the port of the future. Using the Port of Tyne as a testbed, the digital energy platform will enable the partners to develop a universal blueprint for decarbonisation that can be replicated in other ports as well as other industries.

The Clean Tyne project will run until the end of March 2022. It will be using the 2050 Maritime Innovation Hub at the Port of Tyne as a platform to demonstrate and disseminate the learnings and outputs with all ports in the UK.

Clean Ferry

The CLEANFERRY project will see Newcastle University experts, working with partners NEXUS and Royston, help transition the Shields Ferry which runs across the River Tyne, to run carbon free. Cross river ferries still rely heavily on fossil fuels.

Academics will define and develop a detailed technology route map for the Shields Ferry service based on data intelligence, innovative solutions and energy efficient operational strategies.

Specifically, the project team will deliver a detailed understanding of ferry energy flows, allowing for an accurate measure of the carbon footprint of its existing propulsion arrangement and operations. This will lead to a review and viability of future-proof technology options for retrofitting or upgrading the vessels as well as operational strategies.

Dr Roberto Palacin, Reader in Transport Futures and Director of Mechanical Engineering and Marine Technology at the School of Engineering said: “CLEANFERRY is the first step of a fantastic journey defining pathways to decarbonise the Shield Ferry and to do this in alignment with efforts being made by our partners to offer carbon neutral mobility solutions. I’m very excited about the potential impact on people and place resulting from this research.”

 Although a slow transition towards alternative fuels has been triggered, maritime transport, including cross river ferry operation, still depends heavily on fossil fuel combustion, which contributes to and creates significant challenges with regard to air pollution and climate change.

Helen Mathews, Head of Corporate Planning at Nexus said: “At Nexus we are really excited to be working on this project with the University and Roystons. The Shields Ferry is an important link in our public transport offer and it supports tourism and leisure around the mouth of the Tyne and beyond.

We are committed to improving the environmental credentials of the Ferry and this project will helps us to identify the right mix of technology and operational processes to minimise the carbon footprint of our service.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps MP said: “As a proud island nation built on our maritime prowess, it is only right that we lead by example when it comes to decarbonising the sector and building back greener. The projects announced show case the best of British innovation, evolutionising existing technology and infrastructure to slash emissions, create jobs and get us another step closer to our decarbonisation targets.”

Simon Edmonds, Deputy Executive Chair and Chief Business Officer, Innovate UK, said: “As the UK prepares to host COP26 in the maritime city of Glasgow, it is great that we can announce funding for these fantastic projects in the marine sector that will help the UK meet its net zero goals.

“From this competition we saw a very high level of demand, we have seen the very best of British ideas from all over the country. It is clear that not only does the UK have a great maritime history, but also a bright and greener future, too.”


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