A study into how Freeport East can potentially become both a net-zero port and a net-zero energy hub for third parties and adjacent region, has been selected as one of the beneficiaries of the Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC). This will leverage opportunities such as the local presence of existing and new-build nuclear power stations at Sizewell. 

Being developed with partners at the Port of Felixstowe, Cranfield University, Sizewell C and EDF, the project will in addition to decarbonising the port’s own operations, involve a feasibility study to consider how Freeport East can play a role in helping to reduce or eliminate carbon from associated and adjacent businesses to potentially become a net-zero port and energy -hub.

Commenting on the project, Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Felixstowe, said:

“There is considerable use of fossil fuel in ports all over the world. Replacing hydrocarbons completely is a huge challenge. Technology replacements are in some cases becoming available but in many cases they are in their infancy or face other hurdles to adoption. All solutions demand very significant investment. The study will identify which solutions give the best viable outcome regarding speed and efficacy towards net zero.”

Mr Lewis added:

“Decarbonising associated activities is very challenging. There are a large number of diverse operators not under the direct control of the port. However, the scale of operations at Felixstowe and Harwich increases the potential to supply a carbon-free energy alternative and will drive the concept of a port energy supply hub. If the project can supply enough hydrogen, synthetic fuels or bulk carbon-free power, it can facilitate a far-reaching energy transition.”

Freeport East is one of eight new Freeports in England announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March. Hutchison Ports’ Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International are partners in the Freeport together with a number of local councils and the New Anglia and South East Local Enterprise Partnerships.

The Freeport East Energy Hub Feasibility Study is part of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, funded by the Department for Transport and delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.

Announced in March 2020, and part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan to position the UK at the forefront of green shipbuilding and maritime technology, the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition is a £20m investment from government alongside a further c.£10m from industry to reduce emissions from the maritime sector. The programme is supporting 55 projects across the UK, including projects in Scotland, Northern Ireland and from the South West to the North East of England. As set out in the Clean Maritime Plan (2019), Government funding has been used to support early stage research relating to clean maritime. The programme will be used to support the research, design and development of zero emission technology and infrastructure solutions for maritime and to accelerate decarbonisation in the sector.