Trendwatch: DOE announces nearly $60 million to advance clean hydrogen technologies and improve the electric power grid; U.S. seaports are weathering a numbers hangover in import volumes; PSA and Kazakhstan Railways sign Trans-Caspian rail corridor pact

Top view of colorful cargo trains. Aerial view from flying drone of colorful freight trains on the railway station. Wagons with goods on railroad. Heavy industry. Industrial conceptual scene

DOE announces nearly $60 million to advance clean hydrogen technologies and improve the electric power grid

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced nearly $42 million in funding for 22 projects in 14 states to advance critical technologies for producing, storing, and deploying clean hydrogen. DOE also announced $17.8 million to establish a new North American university research consortium that will help states and tribal communities implement grid resilience programs and achieve decarbonization goals. By advancing the performance and cost of clean-hydrogen technologies while supporting grid resilience and decarbonization, DOE continues to make strides toward achieving President Biden’s Investing in America agenda — to reach a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

U.S. Department of Energy


U.S. seaports are weathering a numbers hangover in import volumes

U.S. seaports are having a terrible year, yet are seeing something of an importing resurgence at the same time.

Imports at some of the nation’s busiest container ports have been falling at a double-digit annual pace for several months. Yet business has been increasing month to month at many of the big gateways, and for many of the ports exceeds box volumes of 2019, before pandemic-driven buying sent shipping demand on a roller coaster.

The gap between the annual decline and the monthly growth pace is a sign of the hangover from the record cargo volumes that surged into the U.S. in 2021 and 2022, when importers rushed in furniture, electronics and other goods to meet enormous consumer demand.



PSA and Kazakhstan Railways sign Trans-Caspian rail corridor pact

Singapore-based terminal operator PSA International has formed a joint venture with Kazakhstan’s main rail network operator Kazakhstan Railways (KTZ) to promote the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR).

The TITR is a rail corridor route that travels through China, Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan and then Georgia, enabling products to be shipped through Black Sea ports to European countries and Turkey.

The joint venture agreement, signed in the presence of Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob and Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov, will see the JV company KPMC look to develop the TITR through initiatives such as the organisation of block trains and provision of station-to-station products and services.

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France seeks EU deal to avoid repaying rail freight aid

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said the government is in talks with the European Commission to avoid reimbursing some €5.3 billion ($5.7 billion) of state aid received by the country’s rail freight operator.

“I think we’ll reach an agreement,” he told Les Echos newspaper. “Paying back this aid would kill Fret SNCF, and presumably rail freight in France.”

The commission said in January it would investigate state aid given between 2007 and 2019 to the freight unit of state-owned rail operator SNCF.

Beaune, who earlier met with labor unions and management at Fret SNCF, said the government aims to avoid redundancies, any shift of business to road haulage or privatization of the company, and maintain a single public freight entity controlled by SNCF.



Major financing and operator decisions coming on Montreal’s big Contrecoeur container project

As the clock ticks away, so do construction costs escalate in a high inflationary environment. Delays on the Contrecoeur project could mean the Port of Montreal will not have the container capacity it wants in place by 2027 to meet expected demand and thereby continue to compete effectively against key U.S. East Ports in a strong expansion mode - buttressed by the Biden Administration’s multi-billion-dollar infrastructure program. But latest developments point to important announcements this spring and summer on finalizing a financing package, followed by the selection of the terminal operator and a detailed construction schedule.

An announcement from federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra outlining federal financial support for the Port of Montreal’s Contrecoeur container terminal project was described as “a question of weeks, not months” by Martin Imbleau, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority, during the port’s annual board meeting at end of April.



WSC report: Reduction in containers lost at sea in 2022

In 2022, 661 containers were lost overboard, according to the annual report of World Shipping Council (WSC).

This number represents less than one-thousandth of 1% (0.00026%) of the 250 million containers currently shipped each year, with cargo transported valued at more than US$7 trillion.

"The reduction in containers lost at sea in 2022 is positive news, but there is no time for complacency. Every container lost at sea will always be one too many and we will continue with our efforts to make the sea a safer place to work, and to protect the environment and cargo by reducing the number of containers lost at sea," stated John Butler, president and CEO of the WSC.

Container News


UK expects new Brexit deal on car factory rules ‘soon’

The UK and the European Union will “soon” announce a solution on post-Brexit trading rules that carmakers warn could lead to factory closures, Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said.

“This is not a UK problem, it is an EU-UK problem. It works both ways,” Badenoch told Stephanie Flanders, Bloomberg News’s head of economics and government, Tuesday on the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha. “We should see an answer soon.”

Bloomberg has previously reported the UK is lobbying the EU to delay the introduction of local manufacturing requirements, so-called rules of origin, which are due to kick in next year. The UK has included removing that cliff edge among its priorities in recent talks with Brussels.



Xi’s Micron ban shows China’s limited options to hit back at US

(Bloomberg) -- China’s move to ban Micron Technology Inc.’s products marked its most meaningful retaliation yet against US export controls. Now the question is whether President Xi Jinping will go after even bigger targets, risking blowback to his own economy.

Until this week, Beijing hadn’t responded in kind to US moves to kneecap China’s access to advanced chips and other technology, which President Joe Biden has said could be used for military modernization. China has repeatedly blasted the actions as the “long-arm” of US hegemony, while taking few meaningful actions against American companies.

MSN News