Selby’s Drax Power is partnering with the Smart Green Shipping Alliance (SSGA), dry bulk cargo transporter Ultrabulk, and naval architects Humphreys Yacht Design to tackle CO2 emissions from the shipping industry.
A £100,000 12-month feasibility study funded by InnovateUK, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and private investors has begun.
The study will examine the potential of fitting an innovative sail technology called Fastrig onto Ultrabulk ships importing biomass into the UK, for cutting both carbon emissions and costs.
The shipping industry emits roughly 3% of global CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions (CO2-equivalent), or approximately 1 billion tonnes of CO2 and other GHGs per year. That’s over twice as much as the UK’s total emissions, from all sources.
Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire has transformed its business having converted two thirds of the power station to use biomass instead of coal – it is now Europe’s biggest decarbonisation project.
Last year, it imported 6.8 million tonnes of the compressed wood pellets in 221 deliveries to the ports of Immingham, Hull, Tyne and Liverpool, to enable it to generate 14% of the UK’s renewable electricity.
Diane Gilpin, CEO and Founder of Smart Green Shipping Alliance, said: “This is a project that could really make a difference to the way the industry operates.”
She added: “We’re engaging across shipping, working with port owners, shipbuilders, cargo owners’, and financiers to design pragmatic and effective new systems solutions.
“The prototypes we’re looking to develop are really exciting. A 21st century sailing-hybrid ship will look as much like the Cutty Sark as a Tesla does a Model T Ford.”
Gilpin is an expert on the UK government’s Clean Maritime Council, which will devise a strategy to reduce emissions from the shipping sector.
UK Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani said at the Council’s inaugural meeting: “The Clean Maritime Plan will bring new opportunities for Britain’s businesses to design, develop and sell green solutions to this global challenge.”
Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said: “Smart Green Shipping Alliance’s pioneering efforts to deliver cleaner, greener transportation could help achieve the clean growth required for the UK to meet its climate targets.
“If we’re serious about meeting those targets, decarbonising transportation is the next big challenge.
“The combination of green shipping with renewables makes an even greater contribution to decarbonisation globally. This is a key development in achieving Drax’s aim – to deliver a zero carbon, low cost future for all.”
The first six months of the project will be a technical feasibility study, establishing the mechanical parameters for retrofitting the Fastrig solution onto ships.
The next six months will focus on putting together a business case and calculating detailed costings for the project. The aim is to retrofit a ship with the Fastrig technology – depending on the outcome of the feasibility study, the launch of the Commercial Demonstrator could be done as soon as 2021.