Associated British Ports – Ipswich

About the client

Associated British Ports – ABP is the UK’s leading port operator, with a unique network of 21 ports across England, Scotland and Wales. Their ports include Immingham, the UKs busiest port, and Southampton, the nation’s second largest and most efficient container port, as well as the UK’s number one for cars and cruise.
In 2016 ABP and its customers handled 89 million tonnes of cargo. They support 119,000 jobs and contribute £7.5 billion to the UK economy every year.

The Port

The Port of Ipswich, situated at the head of the River Orwell the port handles aggregates, grain, animal feed, fertilisers, and cement. ABP’s Coldock Terminal offers over 16,000 m2 of covered warehousing and the port has three aggregates terminals. ABP has invested £2m in a purpose built new Dry Bulks shed.

Drivers for the project

ABP have a company wide policy to deliver renewable technology across all operational ports in order reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption.


Custom solar secured a framework partnership with ABP via an OJEU competitive tendering process across the whole of the industry which scored the bidders on several factors including; Health & Safety, design & engineering capability, delivery capability and experience in the design and installation of large-scale solar projects.


The port has 1.347mWp of solar installed across 8 buildings within the port (3600 panels). We installed 371kWp of this system on the cliff bulk terminal in 2017. As this was a new construction, we worked alongside the main building contractor to deliver the system within the construction programme in order to save our client money on additional access requirements. This meant they were able to have the system energised a lot earlier in the process.

Export limitation

Due to there being fault current issues in the area around Ipswich close to the port, there was very little export capability and so the DNO were satisfied to provide an export agreement for 90kWp. Typically, this would prevent a larger project above 90kWp progressing but despite the DNO having never agreed to power limiting devices being installed on their network previously, we managed to successfully work with them on reviewing the technology of smart metering we were proposing.

Through this journey we designed a bespoke solution to limit the capacity of the 371kWp system to 90kWp. For this we adopted the Fronius Smart Meter system with graduated reduction, but with this being a connection at HV, a secondary disconnect has also been installed to cut off output 3 of the 4 inverters should export go over the output threshold.

Due to their not being sufficient load in the building to utilise all of the solar generation it would have been a negative position for the client if we simply limited the site at the building. Instead to allow the power to be utilised across the port we successfully designed a solution to limit the export at the main incoming supply. This work involved a 500-meter excavation to lay a data cable capable of limiting the inverters should the site ever export above the agreed limit.

We have since been approached to take part in a study to increase export capability in the area by monitoring the usage on site and sharing the information with UK Power Networks as part of an experimental approach they are considering. We have agreed to this and are proud to say we have been viewed as successful experts in this field.


Custom Solar operate and maintain all of the systems across the port providing live monitoring via our bespoke monitoring solution, full reactive maintenance and annual scheduled service visits.

Associated British Ports – Ipswich website

Project details

Port of Ipswich
System size
1.347 MWP
Panel Manufacturer
Number of panels
Inverter Manufacturer
Annual system generation
1,111,275 KWH
CO2 Savings per annum
308,157 KG
Completion date
August 2018

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