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Cutting Carbon Footprints

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Dry Bulk,

Peel Ports is one of the UK’s largest port operators, having handled 13.5 million t of dry bulk commodities in 2017 alone.

Because of its network of terminals, port-centric logistics and close proximity to distribution centres across the UK, it has been incredibly well positioned to support developments in the supply chain sector over the last few years.

Not only has this helped make things more cost-effective for its customers, it has also helped reduce carbon emissions and, in turn, allowed customers to meet their own ambitious environmental targets.

A big drive for the company in recent years has been to reduce the carbon footprint left by the entire supply chain when it is moving dry bulk products. This commitment has led the business to invest in sea, rail and inland water transportation. By taking a multi-modal approach to logistics, Peel Ports has removed millions of road miles from its UK operation.

With ports in Liverpool, Clydeport, Great Yarmouth, Sheerness and along the Manchester Ship Canal offering a wide range of berthing options, Peel Ports is well positioned to accommodate vessels of all sizes arriving with essential imports for UK industries and commerce, or leaving with bulk exports bound for the rest of the world.

This article takes a closer look at how Peel Ports has helped two of its largest customers – Drax and Aggregate Industries – reduce carbon emissions at the same time as helping to efficiently transport their products across the UK and beyond.

Success coming down the track at Drax

As well as being the UK’s most strategically located port for container shipping, every year the Port of Liverpool handles and stores millions of tonnes of dry bulks from grains and biomass, to aggregates and chemicals.

With the world making the shift away from fuels such as coal and towards lower and renewable sources, Peel Ports spotted the opportunity to develop a unique offering at the Port of Liverpool to support the largest single decarbonisation project in Europe at Drax’s power plant in North Yorkshire, UK.

Peel Ports developed a new £100 million biomass facility to supply renewable fuel to Drax. Now, over 3 years since the terminal opened, the operator has dispatched more than 3500 freight services from the railheads at the port to Drax.

For the 3 million t capacity facility that Peel Ports and Drax wanted to build, innovative supply chain solutions had to be produced. Not only that, but there were some specific challenges to address. Compressed wood pellets have fundamentally different physical properties to other fuels, such as coal, making them more combustible and requiring very careful handling.

The first challenge was getting the high density pellets off giant ships. For this, Peel Ports and Drax designed a solution that uses an Archimedean screw – a long tube with a spiral winding up the inside that allows liquids, or materials that can behave like a liquid (such as wood pellets), to resist gravity and travel upwards.

At the top of the screw, the pellets are discharged onto a conveyor belt and carried to one of three purpose-built silos tailored to safely store thousands of tonnes of biomass.

Here, the pellets wait until another conveyor belt deposits them onto specially-designed biomass trains, where they are then transported across the peaks of the Pennines to Drax power plant nearby Selby in North Yorkshire.

Each step at the port is automated, designed with supreme efficiency in mind by a team of Drax and Peel Port engineers. End-to-end, port to power plant, the whole procedure can take as little as 12 hours.

The facility directly employs 50 people and approximately 500 further contractors have worked on the project during its construction and development. More than that, it is an investment in the country’s energy future. It secures a fourth port for Drax – three others are on the east coast – helping with security of supply.

A spokesperson for Drax Power Ltd, said: “The biomass terminal at the Port of Liverpool enables us to further our ambitious decarbonisation plans and ensure Drax continues to lead the charge when it comes to creating sustainable, affordable renewable power.

“It is important to us that we measure the carbon footprint of every step in our supply chain, from harvesting to transportation. By shipping to Liverpool and transporting our biomass via rail, Peel Ports have provided us with a logistics solution, which minimises carbon emissions and helps us maintain our low carbon manifesto.”

Delivering concrete benefits to Aggregate Industries

Peel Ports has been helping its customer Aggregate Industries – one of the UK’s largest suppliers of construction materials – to deliver concrete benefits across the company’s supply chain in recent years.

With over 200 sites and more than 3900 employees, Aggregate Industries is home to everything from aggregates, asphalt and ready-mixed concrete to precast concrete products. On top of that, it produces, imports and supplies construction materials, exports aggregates and offers national road surfacing and contracting services.

To read the rest of this article, please download the full Summer issue of Dry Bulk Magazine here.

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