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Request for Proposal (RFP)

Company Profile

The Port of London Authority (PLA) are the custodians of the tidal Thames with responsibility for 95 miles of the tidal Thames.  We work to keep commercial and leisure users safe, protect and enhance the environment and promote the use of the river for trade and travel.  The Port of London oversees 230,000 vessel movements handling over 53m tonnes of cargo each year.  Unlike most UK port authorities, the PLA does no cargo handling – that is done by the individual terminals along the river that make up the Port of London.

Headquartered in Gravesend, with multiple offices in Gravesend and London, it was formed by an Act of Parliament in 1908 and employs around 400 people.


1. RFP Objectives

The purpose of this Request For Proposal (RFP) is to demonstrate the potential of a hydrogen or ammonia fuel cell based system as a replacement for existing shore based diesel generators that operate in a marine environment.  The demand for electricity and the interest in alternative low carbon fuels on the tidal Thames is increasing as the maritime sector starts to decarbonise. The provision of electricity, particularly from renewable sources, can be challenging along the Thames, with the prospect of grid capacity also being reduced by decarbonisation of other sectors as well as the constraints on space for storage of power or fuel for energy provision.

The fuel cell system will be trialled at the PLA’s marine operations facility in Gravesend, providing power to warm start large tugs and maintain battery power on the UK’s first hybrid pilot cutter vessel.  The chosen site is fairly constrained, but in many ways representative of many other sites along the Thames which may in the future themselves be adapted to provide alternative low carbon fuel infrastructure. It is intended that the demonstrator will:

  • Prove the suitability and reliability of a fuel cell system to provide power to river vessels while minimising Greenhouse gas and air emissions
  • Provide an indication of system footprint (including fuel storage and safety distance), which help to understand better the constraints and identify opportunities for such system to be applied at other maritime operational sites
  • Provide insights into fuel storage, fuel supply and fuel handling, which the experience and knowledge is transferable for adopting alternative low carbon fuel technology on vessels
  • Improve stakeholder understanding of safety issues around alternative low carbon fuels
  • Provide training opportunities for safe handling of alternative low carbon fuels


2. RFP Process

PLA shall issue this RFP under the timescales set out below.  The fuel cell power system described in this RFP is one of the four sub-projects within a full funding proposal that will be submitted to the Maritime Research and Innovate UK (MarRI-UK) funding application, under the Smart Maritime Land Operations call in July.  The process steps are as follows:

  1. RFP issued
  2. Supplier(s) to submit clarification questions
  3. Scheduled discussion and site visit with PLA
  4. Supplier(s) to submit proposal(s) in accordance with this RFP
  5. RFP submission(s) evaluation by PLA
  6. Selected consortium members of the funding application announced
  7. Collaborate on the funding proposal
  8. Project begins if funding has been successful


Project programme and timetable

Any response received after this RFP close date shall only be included at the sole discretion of PLA.

During the RFP process suppliers should not contact or communicate with any person(s) other than the individual(s) listed below in reference to any aspect of this tendering exercise or the services sourced, unless they refer the supplier to another colleague.  Failure to comply may result in disqualification from this sourcing exercise.

Person 1 - [email protected]

Person 2 – [email protected]


Evaluation Criteria

An evaluation team will consider all submissions correctly submitted and will select one or more with a view to reaching a contractual agreement subject to any necessary clarification of the submission.  An award will be made based on an assessment of total whole life cost and supplier competency in service delivery, support and account management.       

Evaluation of the submissions provided shall be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Proposed fuel cell-based system design
  • Experience in delivering a comparable relevant system; supported with test data, if possible
  • Experience in funding application
  • Outline project plan –
  • 1. Delivery plan
  • 2. Project timeline
  • 3. Identification of key delivery risks and mitigation
  • Resource levels, days allocated to each team member for each task
  • Cost


3. Contractual Requirements

MarRI-UK Smart Maritime Land Operations Call

The PLA is the lead organisation in a MarRI-UK funding application.   The provision of a fuel cell-based system sought in this RFP is one of the four sub-projects within a single funding proposal that was submitted to MarRI-UK as Express of Interest.  The PLA’s proposal has been short listed for a full proposal submission that closes on 12 July 2021.  A single contract will be placed with the lead organisation if the PLA’s application has been accepted.

This contract is subject to a successful funding application and PLA reserves the right to withdraw if such funding is not agreed.


4. Suppliers Confirmation


All information supplied and received between PLA and the Supplier(s) in connection with this RFP shall be regarded as confidential in nature and treated as such. Information supplied between PLA and the Supplier shall not be shared with any third party unless express consent to do so is given by the party from whom the information originated.


RFP Information

Information provided to Suppliers in connection with this RFP is provided in good faith.  However, PLA accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage whatsoever that may occur arising from the use of such information.

It is incumbent on the Supplier(s) to ensure that they have all the information required for the accurate preparation of their RFP submissions, and that they satisfy themselves on the correct interpretation of terminology used in the RFP documentation.


Cost of Quotation

PLA will not, in any circumstances, be responsible for any costs or expenses incurred by the Supplier(s) in connection with the preparation and delivery of any RFP submission.


Independent Quotation

By submitting a response to this RFP, the supplier warrants the following:

a) It is a bona fide submission intended to be competitive.

b) The prices in the submission have been arrived at independently, without consultation, communication, agreement or understanding for the purpose of restricting competition, as to any matter relating to such prices, with any other bidder or with any competitor.

c) Unless otherwise required by law, the prices which have been submitted in the RFP response have not knowingly been disclosed by you, directly or indirectly, to any other bidder or competitor, nor will they be so disclosed.

d) No attempt has been made nor will be made by you to induce any other person or firm to submit, not to submit or to withdraw a quotation for the purpose of restricting competition.


Notification of Outcome

When the successful Supplier(s) have been identified by PLA, all bidders will be informed in writing whether or not they have been selected to be a consortium member of the funding application; this communication will provide feedback on the bid submitted and the reasons for our decision.  No information shall be given on the progress of the RFP until the successful Supplier(s) have been formally identified.


Treatment of RFP Submission(s)

PLA expressly reserves the rights to:

a) not award any contract as a result of this RFP exercise

b) accept any part, or all, of any submission unless the Supplier expressly stipulates in their return that this is not acceptable

c) not undertake to accept the lowest tender, or part, or all of any submission, and the acknowledgment of receipt of any submission shall not constitute any actual or implied agreement between PLA and the Supplier(s).


5. Specification

Background information

The site selected for the trial is one of the PLA’s operational sites located in Gravesend, Kent.  As illustrated in Figure 1, the site comprises a fixed structure of a yard built on the shore known as the inner quay.  The inner quay is connected to a T shaped jetty with a fixed roadway jetty (approximately 110 m) into the river terminating in a paved area (approximately 20 m x 40 m) at the end, known as the jetty head. 


Figure 1: Illustration of the trial site


There are two floating pontoons connected to the east side of the jetty head, the pontoons and the pedestrian walkways have a total length of approximately 110 m.  There are three floating pontoons connected to the west side of the jetty head, the pontoons and the pedestrian walkways have a total length of approximately 140 m.  Currently, there is a 300 kVA diesel generator on the last pontoon on the eastern side (Pontoon 5) with 2 x 86 A connection points, which provided energy to warm start tug engines, and a 100 kVA diesel generator on the last pontoon on the western side (Pontoon 1), which is used to charge the battery of a hybrid pilot cutter when off station.

The load of the 300 kVA generator demand led with an irregular and unpredictable pattern, i.e. demand could be at any time of the day and during any day of the week.  The average load is in the range of 30 to 70 kVA with a maximum load of 110 kVA, with some periods of running at negligible or no load. 

The 100 kVA generator is used twice per week for 6 to 7 hours to charge up the two 288 V 300 Ah batteries on the hybrid pilotage cutter.  Each battery has an 86.4 kWh of charging capacity, which equivalent to a mean charging rate of approximately 29 kW and a maximum charging rate of circa 60 kW assuming the battery required a full charge. 

The total fuel consumption from both generators is roughly 3350 L of diesel per week.



A single hydrogen or ammonia fuel cell-based system that can provide the power of the combined requirements and demand provided by the two diesel generators at Denton Wharf (the 100 and 300 kVA generators as listed in Background Information).  Whilst for the supplier to asses, the preferred location of the fuel cell generator would be the inner corner (facing the shore) of the jetty head with a footprint of 17 m x 7.5 m (shaded area on the jetty head in Figure 1, with an approximate area of 130 m2).  It is expected to distribute the power from the fuel cell power system to both pontoons on the eastern and western end and ideally, to have separate power control systems on both pontoons.

Due to the limited space at the jetty head, storage of the fuel may need to be located on the inner quay.  Whilst for the supplier to assess, the preferred location of the fuel storage would be the eastern outer corner (facing the river) with a trapezium shaped footprint of approximately 70 m2 (shaded area on the inner quay in Figure 1).  The given footprint should include any required safety exclusion zone.  Ideally, the refuelling frequency should be no more than once a week. If fuel is to be stored on the inner quay, it is expected a pipeline will need to be installed alongside the roadway jetty connecting the storage with the power system.  Containment systems already in place on the eastern side of the roadway jetty.

The two diesel generators will be remained onsite as backup and will be needed to be integrated into the fuel cell-based system.

The two diesel generators will be remained onsite as backup and will be needed to be integrated into the fuel cell-based system.

The entire project is expected to last for maximum 18 months, with a maximum lead time of 6 months and a trial period of 12 months.  The use of fuel(s) will need to be monitored to fully access any environmental benefits or detriments and system efficiency of the proposed system.


Methodology and Outcome

Bidders are encouraged to propose suitable technological solutions for operating in a constrained and operational maritime site.

Data, such as the power demand, typical operation profile, and site constraints, that required for the system design is listed in the “Background Information” Section.  A site visit will also be arranged (COVID rules will apply).

The project’s outcome will be:

Project management, design, supply, implementation and integration of a fuel cell system to replace the current diesel generators with the following minimum requirements:

  1. The supplier will:
  • Design a system that should include the integration and connection to the fuel supply, however fuel provision is under separate contract
  • Finalise the system design within a month from signing of the contract
  • Provide necessary qualitative risk assessment, including HAZID and HAZOP
  • Provide all necessary training for operators and associated manuals


  1. A fuel cell-based system that will:
  • Supply all electricity demand to the tugs and hybrid pilot cutter for the duration of the trial period (to be defined – at least 12 months of the 18 months project)
  • Uptime of the system to be at least 80% excluding issues with fuel supply
  • Integrate the system with the backup diesel generators
  • Integrate a smart control system with a data logger for fuel(s) consumption, power generated, and load
  • Obtain all necessary permits and certification
  • Include a service agreement with the duration of the trial period
  • Demonstrate carbon and air emission saving of at least 80%, i.e. the backup diesel generator should not be run for more than 20% of the trial period 
  • Implement risk mitigation measures as indicated in the qualitative risk assessment which should cover operational safety, public safety and environmental protection
  • Demonstrate any other environmental or social benefits, such as reduction in noise level


  1. A fuel storage system that will be required to demonstrate, as a minimum, that can be established and applied in a confined and operational maritime site, such as delivery and discharge performance, and stored safely, i.e. structural integrity and durability


  1. Onsite project management of construction and delivery of the system


  1. Basic servicing training provided to operational staff to allow them to be familiar with the properties, safety precautions and procedure in the event of emergency.


Service Level Agreement

The following KPIs will be used to support the execution and performance of this contract:

Support the PLA MarRI-UK funding application; and if the funding application has been successful

1. Milestones met and in line with budgeted costs

2. Monthly progress reports provided to PLA


Supplier Remuneration

Supplier(s) should detail within their proposal the remuneration milestones (with timings) required to complete the project.

Should the Supplier(s) wish to submit multiple bids (i.e. for each option) then separate costs should be provided for each.

Consortia bids for the RFP are permitted on the condition that all parties are clearly listed along with identification of the lead bidder.


Governance and Compliance

As part of their proposal all Supplier(s) should clearly detail both the statutory and best practice bodies which govern, regulate and monitor standards applicable to the Services procured under this RFP. As part of this, the Supplier(s) should also confirm their accreditation to the bodies detailed.  


Format of Response

Proposal submissions should be provided in Word or PDF format to the people listed above and should comprise the following requirements in the sequence detailed:

  1. Proposed fuel cell system design, including
    • Optimal sizing and configuration for the hydrogen or ammonia fuel cell power system to match the combined energy demands, operational patterns, and within the space constraints
    • Specify the amount of fuel(s) required
    • Optimal configuration for the fuel storage to match the energy demands, space and layout of the site
    • Optimal configuration for connecting the fuel storage and the power system
    • Establish a test protocol to specify how to demonstrate the objectives
    • A description of necessary certification and the means to obtain compliance


   2. Experience in delivering relevant comparable systems:

To be supported with previous test data, if possible, to illustrate system performance in terms of reliability, conversion efficiency, storage efficiency

  1. Experience in funding applications


  1. Project plan:
  • Delivery plan, including implementation, installation, commissioning and operation of the system, including necessary training
  • Key delivery risks and mitigation
  • Timescales for completion of activities (from the day of the MarRI-UK Funding Award Announcement)

   5. Resource levels, including days allocated to each team member for each task

   6. Cost

   7. Confirmation of contract acceptance (or otherwise)

   8. Confirmation of ISO14001 environment, ISO9001 QMS and ISO45001 health and safety accreditation (where it exists) and certifying body

   9. Any other supporting information not detailed above


Considerations in Response

Consortia bids of the RFP are welcome, with a lead bidder identified.  We strongly encourage consortium bids in order to draw in ports and maritime expertise.