UK Ports look to deliver net zero ambitions with hydrogen trial

Associated British Ports (ABP) has announced it is to become the first port operator in the country to trial a hydrogen fuelled tractor in its container terminal at the Port of Immingham, as part of a national initiative to look to reduce emissions in UK ports.

This joint pilot project received funding from ORE Catapult through Innovate UK’s Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII), following funding of initial feasibility from the Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

The Terberg hydrogen terminal tractor has been tested at the UK’s largest port by volume of tonnage, alongside a mobile hydrogen filling station provided by Air Products. The project has been a collaboration between ABP, Terberg, Air Products, and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult.

Simon Bird, Regional Director of the Humber ports said: “This demonstration of using hydrogen in port equipment in Immingham has been able to highlight the challenges and benefits of using this zero-emission energy in our port.

“It shows our customers how forward thinking we are in meeting the need to de-carbonise in the port and it’s great we’ve been able to collaborate with all the various partners in its delivery.”

He added the pilot is viewed as a key step in the bid to decarbonise port operations, and “an important step in the creation, delivery, and use of hydrogen at the Port of Immingham”. Alongside this, HII is developing market, technology, and economic assessments of hydrogen technologies to support the larger UK industry with H2 adoption.

UK maritime minister Baroness Vere said: “Decarbonising the maritime sector goes beyond cutting emissions at sea, and this trial demonstrates that hydrogen will play a significant part in UK’s port operations and shed their dependence on fossil fuels.

“We have supported 86 projects so far through our Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, showing the world that the UK is serious about cleaning up the sector and leading the charge in demonstrating innovative technologies in an operational setting.”

Suzanne Lowe, Air Products’ vice president and general manager – UK commented: “As a first mover committed to the energy transition, Air Products’ is helping drive progress towards the government’s urgent focus of decarbonising the UK’s hard-to-abate sectors and reducing fossil fuel dependency. Through successful implementation, this trial will help provide an important pathway to decarbonise port-related heavy goods equipment.”

Alisdair Couper, MD of Terberg DTS UK explained: “Terberg Special Vehicles started testing its concept Hydrogen Fuel Cell YT Terminal tractor in Mainland Europe firstly in Rotterdam and more recently the Port of Antwerp. This latest trial phase is the first of its type in the UK.

“ABP Ports have been a long-term customer for Terberg Special Vehicles and have operated a fleet of YT 4×2 and RT 4×4 tractors over the years in their mixed role environments. This is an exciting opportunity to explore this new ground-breaking technology in a dynamic real-world scenario.”

Lauren Hadnum, ORE Catapult’s clean maritime manager said: “This project excitingly highlights the increasing technology readiness of vehicles utilising hydrogen fuel in UK port operations, creating a clear demand signal for many HII project partners. Major learnings from this project will have decarbonisation impacts for port vehicles, vessels and the wider hydrogen supply chain. The Humber is well placed to develop this hydrogen value chain; via Offshore Wind energy availability, local demand, and strong system level collaborations such as demonstrated in this project.”