The Port of London Authority (PLA) is leading a new consortium aiming to develop a UK hydrogen highway network which consists of land, sea and ports. The hydrogen highway could significantly support the integration of hydrogen technologies into a range of different sectors with six projects planned for the highway. The six projects cover energy diversity research, trialing hydrogen power generation for vessels based at the PLA’s Denton Wharf, establishing the business case for back hauling hydrogen into central London, ship design and health & safety requirements.
The maritime sector faces some of the most demanding challenges of our current generation. The UK is committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in future shipping, port operations and the maritime industry, to meet Climate Act targets. Reducing the use of carbon-based fuel for transport and energy intensive industries, this additional capacity presents an ideal opportunity to use surplus electricity for generation and storage of green hydrogen.
The project presents a holistic approach to a national hydrogen highway network using existing operations and new offshore energy generation facilities with a smart autonomous network of hydrogen carrier vessels to distribute large quantities of energy from offshore locations to major energy users and clean fuel demand. The tasks supporting the project’s development range from reviews and assessment scorecards of critical energy infrastructure and health and safety requirements to innovative technology developments for the integration of smart and digital maritime transport applications.
Major technology developments are the integration of autonomous systems for ships manoeuvring in port and the design of a physical infrastructure improving the shortcomings of present autonomous mooring, berthing and offloading operations. These would reduce the human intervention in critical near shore vessel operations where much reliance is still placed on manual systems and operations.
Developing and assessing business opportunities arising from a national hydrogen highway and integrating existing maritime businesses will increase the economic optimization from the onset. Regular exchange and communication with key stakeholders through the dissemination of project milestones and deliverables will ensure efficient and transparent connection of the maritime industry.
The work presents an analysis of the benefits of hydrogen to the local economy through detailed consideration of the safe use, distribution and management of hydrogen in land to vessel operations, piers, terminals with the interaction of the port and city hinterlands aiming to deliver the ship service connection.