Ports will play a key role in the decarbonisation of the supply chain, and the sector’s leading trade associations in the UK are calling for greater energy connectivity to facilitate the shift away from fossil fuels.

The British Ports Association and the UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG) have released a summary of data produced by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) that indicates that UK ports account for some 125,000 high-quality jobs, while contributing some GBP10.8 billion (USD13.12 billion) in value to the UK economy. They are also going to play a vital role in the UK’s transition to a net-zero future.

Ports are already investing in zero and low emissions equipment and energy generation, while serving as hubs for the UK’s offshore wind industry as bases for construction, operation, and decommissioning. Still, ports would like to go further, but find themselves constrained by a lack of electricity capacity in surrounding areas.

Ports would also like to go further and act as zero emissions refuelling hubs for trucks and trains, which is not possible under current grid constraints. Industry research suggests that 70 percent of ports are already at the ceiling of available grid power.

To help address this, the ports sector is calling for a new energy infrastructure programme based on ‘Project Rapid’ – which specifies the number of charge points on the strategic road network– and a an expansion of the government’s Rapid Charging Fund to deliver more network capacity in port areas.

Tim Morris, chief executive at UKMPG, said: “The numbers… demonstrate what a positive impact ports have in boosting jobs and prosperity where they are really needed, all around the coast of the UK as well as being the main gateways for trade for the economy as a whole. This comes through the significant, long-term investment by the ports themselves. Government has a key role in enabling more investment and a critical area is in ensuring that there’s the right surrounding energy infrastructure to make the net-zero transition we all want to see.”