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River Thames streams ahead with one of the UK’s first HV shore power stations

UK Power Networks and Net Zero Marine Services (NZMS) have partnered to enable electric boats to charge along the River Thames, significantly reducing emissions. 

For those who have listened to the latest episode of Powered On, you’ll be well aware that the maritime industry is one of the most difficult to decarbonise. However at the same time, we did note of the opportunities available to vessels travelling smaller distances, which could potentially be electrified. 

Those vessels are typically those traversing rivers or canals instead of oceans, and as part of efforts to decarbonise the UK’s most famous river, UK Power Networks is set to provide 1.5MVA of energy to NZMS’s new battery storage facility. This facility will play a pivotal role in charging electric boats on the Thames, marking the UK’s first High Voltage (HV) shore power station above tidal waters.

Strategically located on a fixed tidal platform, which accounts for a 7m tidal range, the substation’s establishment is part of UK Power Networks’ Green Recovery programme. This programme aims to support new low-carbon electricity connections and is a testament to the company’s commitment to sustainable energy solutions.

As part of this project, UK Power Networks has installed 1.8km of new cables and equipment, paving the way for the electrification of Thames boats. This development promises to significantly reduce carbon emissions, cut down on water contamination, and contribute to cleaner air in London.

An investment of £1.2 million has been funnelled into the local electricity network by UK Power Networks to facilitate this connection. The connection, located near Lambeth riverside, was completed in June 2023, ahead of schedule, and is expected to be operational from the following summer.

Under the Green Recovery scheme, NZMS is developing five shore power locations in central London. This initiative will create a comprehensive network of HV power infrastructure, available to all Thames operators, fostering a more environmentally friendly boating ecosystem.

This effort is part of UK Power Networks’ broader £66 million investment across 85 sites under the Green Recovery programme. This programme is instrumental in fast-tracking low-carbon energy projects, aligning with the Government’s Ten Point Plan for Net Zero by 2050. It also supports London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s vision for a Net Zero Carbon London by 2030.

Miles Cole, Managing Director of Net Zero Marine Limited, expressed enthusiasm about the project: “Reaching this milestone is exhilarating. Achieving net zero targets requires collaboration across various stakeholders, and the progress so far has been outstanding. Our mission to displace diesel usage on the Thames through infrastructure development for zero-emission technology, like electric vessels, is well underway. Working closely with UK Power Networks and the Green Recovery Scheme has been crucial in unlocking challenging areas on the Thames for this transition.”

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