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ABP conducts first UK port trial on a hydrogen-powered tractor

ABP conducts the first UK port trial on a hydrogen-powered tractor in the port of Immingham as the UK aims to decarbonise the port operations.
hydrogen-powered tractor
Image: Climate Solutions. Flickr. CC by 2.0

Port of Immingham conducts a trial of hydrogen-powered tractors, becoming the first UK port to do so. Associated British Ports (ABP) conducted the trial in the port’s container terminal. This trial gives a glimpse of an ever-green future at the Port of Immingham.

The trial represents a crucial milestone in the generation, delivery, and usage of hydrogen at the Port of Immingham as well as a crucial activity in the effort to decarbonize port operations. 

With financing from UK’s Hydrogen Innovation Initiative (HII), ABP has started the pilot test at Immingham Container Terminal in collaboration with Air Products, with whom it is hoping to grow on the eastern side of the estate. The financing was part of the Department of Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition, which came after an initial feasibility assessment.

HII has said that to assist the greater UK industry with the adoption of H2, it is developing market, technology, and economic assessments of hydrogen technologies.

The trial was done using the Terberg tug unit to move containers arriving on ships at Immingham, the UK’s largest port by tonnage. This hydrogen-powered unit doesn’t produce any exhaust emissions.

This trial was conducted before a public hearing on a massive plan to use the South Humber Bank site to create hydrogen, import ammonia, and provide transportation and heavy industry. With a potential £4.6 billion economic advantage, CO2 imports may also be welcomed and fed into the region’s massive storage plans.  

The move, according to Maritime Minister Baroness Vere, demonstrated that the UK was “serious about cleaning up the sector.” 

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

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 decarbonise in the port and it’s great we’ve been able to collaborate with all the various partners in its delivery.”

Suzanne Lowe, Air Products’ Vice President and General Manager in the 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.

“We are proud to be enabling ABP in this project through the provision of hydrogen and refuelling infrastructure. Our collaboration marks a further extension of the strong partnership we have established with ABP as we work towards building the largest green hydrogen facility in the UK.”

The Terberg trial is the most recent investment by ABP, and it would save 5,100 tonnes of CO2 per year. It follows on from ABP’s £50 million terminal investment, which included the installation of high-voltage electric cranes to lift containers from vessels and stackers powered by hydrogenated vegetable oil.

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