The Innovation Exchange is delivered by KTN, which is supporting major ports to identify innovative solutions to the challenge of decarbonising ports & harbours. This challenge is brought forward by the Innovation Network for Decarbonising Ports and Harbours – for further details on the work of this Network and how you may connect to it please click here.


The maritime sector has its part to play in the UK’s transition to net zero carbon emissions. KTN has assembled the Decarbonising Ports & Harbours Innovation Network (DPHIN) with an overarching objective to raise the profile of the critical role ports and harbours need to play in Maritime transport’s transition to net zero by 2050 and accelerate this transition by giving clear direction.

The Challenge
A working group of the DPHIN (ABP Limited, BAE Systems, Port of Cromarty Firth, Forth Ports Limited, Port of London Authority, Vattenfall Networks) is examining the potential for innovative solutions to the problem of bringing energy supplies to ships in an efficient and cost-effective way.

At present there is a niche market meeting the ancillary demand for shore-based power, which is mainly arising from the international cruise ship market. Current demand is intermittent and only for the larger power demand end of the market. This creates an oversized solution with high capital costs and long payback periods (>100 years), which makes it untenable for many ports to invest. Current solutions in the market are based on connecting grid derived supplies via cables with a variety of non-universal or bespoke connectors to the ship. These cables are often heavy and difficult to manipulate which create health and safety challenges in operation.

The demand for land-based solutions for delivering energy to ships and vessels whilst in port is diversifying and growing. The energy is used to allow the ship to shut down the carbon producing engines and keep all the systems within the ship working. Operations on board ship might include lighting, heating, cooling, powering ship control and communication systems and lifting/moving or processing cargo. In the future this is expected to be extended to include re-fuelling of the visiting ships and port operation vessels. Solutions to this sub challenge must consider the different sizes and energy demands of ships and explore quick and unobtrusive ways of connecting these energy supplies.

Proposals are welcome for:
• Existing market-ready technologies
• Established solutions from other sectors of industry which can be adapted for this application.
• Development proposals based on existing competences.
• Universities, RTO’s and Catapults with above TRL 5 solutions and potential routes to market.

Solutions focusing on energy/electricity generation in isolation without transfer will not be considered as part of this challenge, although solutions that allow ship-to-shore transfer would be considered, where the energy is derived from non-fossil fuel derived energy.

This challenge is sponsored by the following organisations which have a vested interest in engaging with potential solution providers who can meet their requirements:

ABP Limited, BAE Systems, Port of Cromarty Firth, Forth Ports Limited, Port of London Authority, Vattenfall Networks.

These organisations are volunteers from the DPHIN and are a representative sample from over 50 major ports in the UK all of whom need to reach NetZero by 2050

Rewards and benefits

Successful applicants will be given an opportunity to pitch to the Challenger. The package may also include:
• Support from KTN and members of the Port Innovation Network – Introductions to relevant Catapults or potential collaborations and any applicable funding streams.
• Support in the development of a prototype or pilot.
• Technical support from Port Operators with support from their business teams as required.
• A place in KTN or Catapult events
• A potential business collaboration