Gateway to a new age of green energy


THERE is a lot a thriving ports business can do to get close to Net Zero, but the process is far from simple. It requires considerable commitment and a significant investment.

Lewis McIntyre, Managing Director Ports Services, at Peel Ports points out that his company is spending around £100 million a year on capital expenditure projects which seek to develop sustainable solutions for its day-to-day operations.

“As an island nation, our ports provide critical infrastructure as the UK’s gateways for food, medical, energy and fuel supplies. It is important that, as a responsible port operator, we help to bring about a positive change in the UK’s logistics market when it comes to tackling climate change,” he comments.

McIntyre notes that sustainability has been a key part of the organisation’s thinking for more than a decade. As part of developing its £400 million deepwater container terminal in Liverpool, the company opted for electric cranes as a deliberate part of its sustainability policy.

“These cranes are very energy efficient. They are capable of generating surplus electricity and exporting it back to the network. All the lighting at the port is LED-based and our software is designed to ensure that all our physical container movements are optimised, to save energy,” he notes.

Peel Ports is committed to transitioning away from fossil fuels for its plant and machinery and is working hard to encourage its supply chain partners to participate in this process.

“If you take the automotive industry, car manufacturers have really embraced the need to move to electric. In this, they are way ahead of the plant and equipment sector. As we operate heavy lifting equipment 24 hours a day, we see this as a tremendous opportunity to involve our suppliers in the move to reducing both our and their carbon footprint, and we are getting some very positive responses,” McIntyre comments.


One of the solutions Peel Ports has come up with is to use Green D+ HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil), in place of diesel. It is a biodegradable and sustainable fuel made from 100 percent renewable raw materials. As a ‘drop-in’ replacement for diesel it can be used in all diesel engines. Green D+ HVO reduces CO2 levels by up to 90 percent whilst also generating significantly less particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions.

McIntyre says that the Group is also committed to having around half its fleet of vehicles running on electricity by the end of the year with the rest of the fleet being converted to running on electricity or biofuels by December 2022.

In addition to working on cutting the carbon output from its usual operations, Peel Ports is in the midst of redevelopment plans for Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (Hunterston PARC), on the west coast of Scotland.

The master plan for Hunterston PARC, which went out to consultation in 2019, saw the 1000 acre site being divided into a 320 acre brownfield development area and a 700 acre site focused on enhancing biodiversity and maintaining that part of the site as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

“The development area will be dedicated to companies focused on the Green and Blue economies,” McIntyre says. The blue economy focuses on the sustainable use of marine and coastal resources, and all companies at the site will be focused on addressing climate mitigation,” he comments.

Peel Ports is working alongside North Ayrshire Council to look at the feasibility of implementing natural capital accounting at Hunterston PARC.

Natural capital accounting is a technical process by which the natural resources of a given ecosystem, in this case, the 320 acre Hunterston brownfield site and the wetlands around it, are documented, making it much easier to evaluate the impacts of various activities on the site’s resources.

“We are looking to measure factors such as the volume of carbon that is being absorbed and sequestered by the site. We want to see what we have there by way of natural capital. These things are all hidden until you actually set out to measure them,” he explains.

Peel Ports has recently signed an option agreement with the subsea cable manufacturer, XLCC which would see XLCC built two factories on 70 acres of the Hunterston PARC 320-acre development site. XLCC will be applying for planning consent in February.

“If the deal goes ahead this would see Hunterston playing a key role in the offshore renewable energy sector. XLCC’s two factories will be producing state-of-the-art high voltage direct current (HVDC) cable for use in the subsea transmission of renewable energy,” McIntyre comments.

Planning permission is expected from North Ayrshire Council by April 2022. If work goes ahead it will create around 400 jobs during the construction phase, along with 900 permanent jobs at the site. Another way Hunterston PARC will be facilitating the UK wind power generation sector is through the planned refurbishment of the its drydocks which are the largest in Europe.

“Hunterston PARC offers a real opportunity to rebalance the east coast versus west coast disparity when it comes to benefitting from the renewable energy boom, McIntyre argues. “We have all seen how Scotland’s east coast has already benefitted enormously from both the onshore and offshore renewables build outs.

“We want to make sure that the west coast gets as much as possible of this work as well,” he notes. McIntyre points out that Hunterston is also attracting interest in other renewables such as the creation of green hydrogen (which is where sea water is split to produce hydrogen, using renewable power to drive the electrolysis process).

The company has also had interest expressed by onshore aquaculture producers and by infrastructure companies focused on grid stabilisation plants. In all, the site is expected to generate around 1,700 permanent jobs.

HeraldScotland: Peel Ports is reaching out to academia and the engineering and manufacturing sectors to come up with green solutions at its docksPeel Ports is reaching out to academia and the engineering and manufacturing sectors to come up with green solutions at its docks

All hands to the pumps to find an innovative solution

PEEL Ports is working with clean technology consultants, Carbon Limiting Technologies (CLT) to identify innovative and sustainable solutions to help it drive down its carbon footprint.

“CLT are a great partner for us. They bring a wealth of cross sector experience and expertise and will support us in identifying and articulating challenges, then approaching the market in an appropriate way to drive innovation through our supply chain” says Lewis McIntyre Managing Director Ports Services.

One of the projects that CLT will be involved in, involves finding a way of exploiting the flow of water into and out of Peel’s docks.

“We have to pump water into our docks to raise the level, and we also have to let that water out again. The brief we are exploring with CLT is to find a circular, renewable solution that could use the outgoing water to generate energy to power the pumps for when we needed to raise the water level in the dock again.”

We propose to take this problem to a range of academic institutions, as well as to engineering and manufacturing companies, asking them to propose potential options and solutions which we can evaluate, trial and implement,” McIntyre says.

“I am confident that we have the right partner in CLT to drive forward both our innovation and sustainability agendas to dramatically reduce our carbon output involved in running the pumps on diesel. This again, is another way in which we are looking to drive towards Net Zero,” he comments.

CLT specialises in helping companies with innovative technology that address either effecting a reduction in CO2 outputs or that help to drive the energy transition away from fossil fuels.

“We are impressed by the fact that CLT is helping to accelerate the move to Net Zero by bringing together technology specialist companies and big energy users like ourselves,” McIntyre says.

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