Trendwatch: B737 problems could hit freighter conversions if not quickly resolved; US and UK navies repel largest Houthi attack on Red Sea shipping; PSA Mumbai achieves milestone as India’s first box terminal running on 100% renewable energy

B737 problems could hit freighter conversions if not quickly resolved

The latest incident involving a Boeing 737-9 MAX has resulted in the temporary grounding of 171 aircraft, but if the problem is not resolved soon, it could also have repercussions for freighter conversions.

On Friday, Alaska Airlines’ flight 1282 was forced to return to Portland International Airport for an emergency landing shortly after take-off, after part of the fuselage fell off as the plane was climbing.

The ‘plug’, a panel inserted into the frame to fill an opening for an additional exit door, required for higher capacity configurations, was later found in a garden in Portland.


US and UK navies repel largest Houthi attack on Red Sea shipping

UK and US naval forces have repelled the largest attack yet by Yemen's Houthi rebels on shipping in the Red Sea, the UK defence secretary says.

The Iran-backed group launched at least 21 drones and missiles overnight, according to the US military.

They were shot down by carrier-based jets and four warships, it added.

No injuries or damage were reported.

The Houthis have not commented, but they have targeted vessels in response to the war in the Gaza Strip.

They have claimed - often falsely - that the ships were linked to Israel.

At around 21:15 local time (18:15 GMT), Iranian-designed one-way attack drones, anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-ship ballistic missiles were launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen towards international shipping lanes in the southern Red Sea, it added.

Eighteen drones, two cruise missiles and one ballistic missile were shot down by F/A-18 warplanes from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower, which is deployed in the Red Sea, and by four destroyers, the USS Gravely, USS Laboon, USS Mason and HMS Diamond.


PSA Mumbai achieves milestone as India’s first box terminal running on 100% renewable energy

PSA Mumbai has marked a significant milestone in its commitment to reducing emissions by becoming India’s first container terminal fully powered by renewable energy.

The commissioning of its 7.8MW solar farm in collaboration with O2 Power is an important achievement. Scheduled for expansion to 10MW by June 2024, the solar farm is set to meet more than 75% of PSA Mumbai's electricity needs. The remaining renewable power will be procured from Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) and other providers.

Anticipated to yield a substantial environmental impact, the solar farm is expected to curtail the terminal's CO2 equivalent emissions by an estimated 16,000 tonnes annually, translating to a remarkable reduction of over 350,000 tonnes over its operational lifespan.


Strike action in Germany to cause inland transportation issues

The Trade Union of German Locomotive Drivers GDL will go on strike from 10 to 12 January.

"GDL members at Deutsche Bahn AG, Transdev and City Bahn Chemnitz have been asked to stop work from 10/01/2024 at 02:00 a.m. to 12/01/2024 at 06:00 p.m. The work suspension at DB Cargo begins on 09/01/2024 at 06:00 p.m.," said a statement.

The locomotive drivers of METRANS are not organised in the GDL, while the participation of DB Netz infrastructure workers is still unknown.


U.S. battery storage capacity expected to nearly double in 2024

U.S. battery storage capacity has been growing since 2021 and could increase by 89% by the end of 2024 if developers bring all of the energy storage systems they have planned on line by their intended commercial operation dates. Developers currently plan to expand U.S. battery capacity to more than 30 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2024, a capacity that would exceed those of petroleum liquids, geothermal, wood and wood waste, or landfill gas.

Two states with rapidly growing wind and solar generating fleets account for the bulk of the capacity additions. California has the most installed battery storage capacity of any state, with 7.3 GW, followed by Texas with 3.2 GW. The rapid growth of variable solar and wind capacity in states such as California and Texas supports growth in battery storage, which works by storing excess power in periods of low electricity demand and releasing power when electricity demand is high. The remaining states have a total of around of 3.5 GW of installed battery storage capacity.


China wants its massive EV fleet to plug in and charge the power grid

In the industrial hub of Wuxi near Shanghai, car owners recently took part in China’s largest experiment to rewire the grid and take advantage of its world-leading fleet of electric vehicles.

Instead of charging up after plugging in, 50 EVs did it the other way around. For 30 minutes, the cars combined to feed around 2 megawatts of electricity into the grid, enough to fully power 133 houses for a day, according to a report from state-owned CCTV.

China plans to lean further into vehicle-to-grid tech. The government’s top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said last week it will select 50 projects in places like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong and Sichuan to carry out demonstrations by 2025. By 2030, it wants the technology and market mechanisms that would allow widespread adoption standardized across the country.


Maritime decarbonization efforts propelled as orders for alternative-fueled vessels grow

The latest stats from DNV’s Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform found that a total of 298 ships with alternative fuel propulsion were ordered in 2023 – an 8% increase year on year. The year also saw methanol go mainstream, with a sharp increase in orders (138) putting it neck and neck with LNG (130). Additionally, 2023 marked a breakout year for ammonia, with 11 orders for vessels run on this fuel, and more in the pipeline.

Faced with increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including stricter targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in July 2023, the maritime sector is considering a range of decarbonization options. Through its AFI platform DNV registers the industry’s efforts related to newbuild vessels and retrofitting with 298 orders for vessels able to run on alternative fuels logged in 2023, and a total of 1281 ships overall.