Drax, operator of the UK’s largest power station, is partnering with the Smart Green Shipping Alliance (SSGA), leading dry bulk cargo transporter Ultrabulk, and Humphreys Yacht Design to tackle the mounting issue of 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, which will examine the potential of fitting the innovative sail technology 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 COCO22 and other GHGs per year—more than 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 decarbonization 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.
Using biomass at Drax has delivered carbon savings of more than 80% compared to coal—this includes supply chain emissions—but shipping remains one of the most carbon intensive parts of the biomass supply chain. Drax’s desire to drive down emissions even further enabled Smart Green Shipping to partner with an end user looking for the lowest carbon cargo provider.
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.