Electrification, efficiency and innovation: How DP World will get to net zero

Electrification, efficiency and innovation: How DP World will get to net zero

Date: 04/01/2023

Cutting your carbon footprint – we’ve all heard about it in recent years, and there’s a good chance you’ve made some changes to reduce your own. But imagine if you were a global company, operating in more than 75 countries, across every continent, with 103,000 employees.

At DP World, we take our aspiration to be carbon neutral by 2040 and net zero by 2050 very seriously. We also want to help lead the way in limiting climate change by setting clear goals and underpinning our strategy with science. Our plans run across all divisions: ports and terminals, logistics, economic zones and marine services.

The five pillars of our decarbonisation strategy
Source: DP World ESG Strategy

Here are the five pillars supporting our decarbonisation strategy:

1. Equipment electrification

We are investing in the electrification of equipment across our operations, and wherever possible are introducing electric alternatives - this is one of the key ways we are already making a difference and the results are already visible. 

Rotterdam World Gateway is almost fully electric and is our first net zero terminal, while our South Korea operations are also well on the way. All across the business efforts are underway to drive this forward, for example we’ve just ordered 20 electric terminal tractors for DP World Callao in Peru and plan to do the same for our Santos port in Brazil. We’ve also got Britain’s first all-electric terminal tractor at our London Gateway port.

2. Efficiency and digitalisation

Some of the easiest wins in decarbonisation are achieved through behavioural changes and reducing the idling time by maximising overall equipment effectiveness. 

But digital innovations are also one of the best ways to do this. Our intelligent High Bay Storage system, known as BoxBay, eliminates unnecessary reshuffling of containers and promotes energy efficiency. We have invested $4 billion in technology since 2016, and 70% of our ports use cutting-edge automation software.

Elsewhere, our operations within Unifeeder have partnered with ZeroNorth to boost decarbonisation and are trialling low-carbon fuels.

3. Renewable energy supply

We’re committed to using electricity from renewable sources. We’re also looking at ways we can self-generate renewable energy, switching to green tariffs that local utility providers offer and contracts to buy directly from renewable energy generators.

We’re working all the time to improve. Last year, DP World Chile secured the first renewable energy certification for a port operator in South America – it gets all its electricity from hydropower plants.

Half of our electricity supply in Europe is renewable, and many of the ports that make that up are running on 100% renewable energy. In Jebel Ali, we have the largest rooftop solar panel installation in the Middle East.

4. Low-carbon fuels

We are striving to replace diesel with low-carbon or zero-carbon fuels where possible and we’re exploring many alternatives. We are currently focusing on biofuels and in the future may consider green hydrogen and derivatives like ammonia and methanol.

Our Southampton container terminal has completely eliminated diesel from its operations and is using hydro-treated vegetable oil instead. Based on actual diesel usage calculations, we estimate a net carbon dioxide reduction of more than 80%.

5. Carbon compensation

We are investigating carbon offsetting to compensate for any CO2 emissions we cannot avoid, purchasing carbon credits and investing in nature-based solutions. While science-based methodology does not include carbon credits as a means of meeting targets, we believe this is the morally proper course of action to assist us go beyond our goals. This includes scope 2 carbon offsets that we purchase in Hong Kong to offset our electricity emissions. But we want to go further than that, sponsoring and funding projects for good. Our work also includes exploring how we might promote blue carbon, with initiatives like mangrove and oyster restoration schemes. In the last year, our teams have planted over 160,000 mangrove seedlings across the UAE, Ecuador, the Philippines, Pakistan and Mozambique.

As a global logistics company using heavy machinery, our operations rely on fuel, and that makes decarbonisation a challenge. But it’s not one we shy away from. Rotterdam World Gateway is an example of how the five pillars that underpin our strategy come together to create something remarkable: our first net zero carbon terminal.

We are also attempting to combat the emissions that result from activities not owned or controlled by us, but that affect our value chain. In 2022, we expanded the coverage of our scope 3 emissions reporting, increasing the categories we report on from one to ten – cutting across upstream and downstream services. To drive reduction efforts across several categories we are also developing a unit-based carbon accounting supplier engagement programme with the aim of fostering long-term collaboration and innovation.

A good example is at our terminal in Santos, Brazil, which has partnered with the “Aterro Zero” project to treat and repurpose all its waste, eliminating the need for it to be sent to landfills. The non-recyclable waste is converted into thermal energy, which is used as a fuel for industrial furnaces in cement production. This initiative not only reduces the environmental impact of the operations, but also conserves natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, creates jobs and improves local health. The Santos terminal is the first in Brazil to achieve 100% waste reuse within the company.

Real change will only succeed if we can collaborate across the industry. That’s why we’ve also invested in a strategic partnership for finding, testing, and implementing practical ways to decarbonise – the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping. We’ve also partnered with Terberg and Gaussin to pilot our electric terminal tractor trial in Jebel Ali and our strategic partnership with MAN Energy Services provides decarbonisation solutions to clients of our DryDocks business.

Our five pillar strategy underpins everything we do and is essential to achieving our zero-carbon future. It will also create green job opportunities and leave behind a legacy of change for all.