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Targeting Net Zero on the Milford Haven Waterway

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Written by:

Steve Edwards,

Commercial Director 

Port of Milford Haven

With UK critical energy infrastructure, a high skill supply chain and superb natural energy resources, the Milford Haven Waterway is positioned to deliver at pace in the fight to deliver net zero targets.

The Waterway is one of the world’s deepest natural harbours and is a gateway to the Celtic Sea. It is home to the UK’s largest energy port, the Port of Milford Haven, and supplies a fifth of the UK’s oil and gas. With high-capacity oil and gas pipelines and electricity connections transporting energy to every part of the UK, the Waterway is a critical part of the UK energy infrastructure.

Over the last decade the Waterway has attracted new innovative collaborations and green technologies including wave, tide and floating wind. They have been attracted by the proximity to world-class natural energy sources, access to a superb high-skill energy and engineering supply chain that has grown up around the established energy sector, and the existing energy infrastructure.

It’s an important industrial cluster and net zero is a key focus right now. A wealth of innovative projects are underway that are exploring the challenges and opportunities ahead. They are looking at collaborative ways to decarbonise existing industry, at the role of hydrogen and in unlocking the natural energy opportunity off Wales’ coastline.

Pembroke Dock Marine, the Celtic Sea, and Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW)

The delivery phase of the Pembroke Dock Marine (PDM) project is now underway. PDM will drive down the cost of marine energy through innovation and operational efficiency providing inshore and offshore test sites, enhanced port infrastructure and an Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (the UK’s leading technology, innovation and research centre for renewable offshore energy).

PDM is a collaboration between Celtic Sea Power, Marine Energy Wales, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) and the Port of Milford Haven. This £60m investment (funded by the Swansea City Bay Deal, European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government and private investment) demonstrates clear confidence in the area’s potential.

The project builds upon existing strengths but also creates the right foundations for additional investment and growth, unlocking the full potential of the marine energy and floating offshore wind (FLOW) opportunities in the Celtic Sea. The focus on this region is intensifying. The Crown Estate recently announced its plans for floating wind leasing in the Celtic Sea, with 400MW of test and demonstration scale sites close to Pembrokeshire’s coastline already in the pipeline. With the Milford Haven Waterway’s impressive infrastructure and skills base, investment to support continued growth on the doorstep of such a huge opportunity is an obvious and cost-efficient next step in reaching Net Zero targets.

Hydrogen

No single clean energy development is of more significance than the Milford Haven Waterway’s potential to lead in the production and distribution at scale of hydrogen. It’s a key piece in completing the virtuous circle in energy terms. As producers and storers of hydrogen, the Milford Haven Waterway would be able to decarbonise its energy intensive industries, making them more efficient and allowing them to continue operating, investing and, importantly, employing Welsh workers long into the future.

Ground-breaking hydrogen projects such as MH:EK (Milford Haven: Energy Kingdom) are already establishing themselves on the Milford Haven Waterway and receiving international attention.

MH:EK is a £4.5m project exploring the use of Zero Carbon Hydrogen for future energy needs across buildings, industry and transport and what a decarbonised smart local energy system could look like working alongside renewable electricity. Central to the project is a commitment to engage with the local community and industry, providing insight and opportunities for economic growth. The project is delivering a Front End Engineering Design (FEED) study, laying the foundations for what could be the first of many Smart Local Energy Systems. Due to be completed in spring 2022, the project has begun demonstrating the practical application of hydrogen technology including a world-first hydrogen hybrid heating system, a green hydrogen electrolyser and refueller, and consumer trials of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with mid-Wales pioneering green automotive company Riversimple.

Pembroke Net Zero Centre

Earlier this year RWE launched its Pembroke Net Zero Centre to maximise the potential of hydrogen, floating offshore wind and carbon capture to help decarbonise industry in Wales. It recognises Pembrokeshire’s unique credentials to become a SuperPlace for decarbonisation; its proximity to Floating Offshore Wind; land for development of large-scale electrolysers; electricity and gas grid connections and an existing gas-fired power station. As one of Europe’s biggest renewable energy players, this is a major endorsement for Pembrokeshire.

South Wales Industrial Cluster

The South Wales Industrial Cluster (SWIC), one of six major Industrial Clusters in the UK, is looking at how we can decarbonise industry and achieve net zero whilst creating and protecting jobs in a low carbon economy. SWIC brings together various sectors in South Wales that are crucial for decarbonisation and the development of a hydrogen economy. The Cluster is investigating the extent to which hydrogen can be produced and used in South Wales – and what infrastructure would be required for this. For example, the existing energy terminals on the Milford Haven Waterway have the potential to play a significant role in the UK’s hydrogen economy, generating, using and distributing hydrogen for UK and international supply.

A brighter future

The vision is for the Milford Haven Waterway to play a significant role in delivering clean energy growth, industrial decarbonisation and Net Zero, and to enable a cleaner, greener future for our communities.

Transitioning to a greener economy also offers significant regeneration benefits. This will help to level up this coastal region of Wales through the creation of fresh high-quality employment and careers for future generations.

There’s no doubt that the road ahead is challenging but, as projects like Pembroke Dock Marine, MH:EK, RWE’s Net Zero Centre and SWIC are demonstrating alongside many more in the pipeline, businesses around the Milford Haven Waterway are acting with pace and vision. Together, they are changing the energy conversation.