Portsmouth International Port sets 2030 target for net-zero emissions

EFFORTS to reduce the environmental impact of operations at Portsmouth's port are being boosted by the 'moral duty' that comes with it being local authority-owned, according to council officials.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 4:06 pm

It is hoped the port will be the first in the country to have net-zero carbon emissions, with a target of reaching this level by 2030 before becoming the first to hit the zero carbon milestone two decades later.

Sustainability project manager Jerry Clarke said there was a 'definite advantage' to the arrangement over privately-owned ports which, he said, 'don't care very much about pollution'.

Last week, Peel Ports, which operates Liverpool docks, set a 2040 target for reaching net-zero emissions.

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'Because of this we are in a position to be able look at things others are not interested in because they don't increase profits,' Mr Clarke said.

He said the council had 'encouraged' efforts to reduce carbon emissions, despite levels rising by 20 per cent from 2018 to 2019.

Measures introduced in recent years include the sea water heat pumping and solar array at the port's terminal and the transition of its vehicles to being electric.

The most effective, however, was the installation of LED lighting, the roll-out of which began 10 years ago and has led to a 60 per cent 'carbon saving'.

'The only other thing we can do that will get close to that sort of impact is shore power,' Mr Clarke said. 'If we can't plug ships in that will be our fault - that carbon would count against us. It's one of the biggest things we're working on.'

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Assessments carried out by the port have estimated that requiring all ships to use shore power would equate to a 90 per cent saving while also leading to a 'significant' improvement to air quality.

Within the next three years the port will need to increase its power supply tenfold in order to facilitate new hybrid ferries planned to operate Brittany Ferries services between the city and France.

The power demands of the port are expected to be greater than those of the entire city by 2050, prompting calls for a new government strategy to facilitate it.

'Those ships are coming,' he added. 'We have to provide power for them even though it will be enormous.'

He said the port was 'very open' to experimental technologies had had been working with organisations, particularly universities across the region, to do this, including the installation of a £500,000 AI battery system last year.

However, not every measure proposed has progressed. A planning application submitted two years ago to install 25 wind turbines has yet to be decided by the city council.

Its leader, councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said this delay was due to the government making it more difficult for on-shore wind schemes to be approved.

To hit the 2030 net-zero target the port will have to fund measures to offset its emissions which often involves funding tree-planting projects across the world.

But Mr Clarke said the port and council were instead 'determined' to support local projects, including the 'very effective' reseeding of oyster beds and investing in offshore kelp farms.

He said he was also keen not just to focus on carbon emissions but to also do more to reduce harmful particulate pollution. This includes plans to install filters around the port boundary.