The British Ports Association has published new research examining the barriers to shore power in UK ports, setting out three proposals to support the industry to meet ambitious emissions reductions targets.
Shore power, also known as cold ironing, is the provision of shore-based electricity to ships at berth, allowing them to turn off their auxiliary engines.
These auxiliary engines are used for crew and passenger accommodation and cargo operations (such as pumps or heating or cooling systems) and typically use a type of diesel.
Shore connections either provide power from the grid or nearby generation sources. They are commonly fixed at one berth but mobile solutions (by barge) are also in operation.
There are currently no large scale shore power connections in UK ports, due to the prohibitively high capital costs associated with such projects.
The price of electricity in the UK and a general lack of consistent demand also means that there is rarely a commercially viable business case for investing in shore power. Such systems, however, have the potential to significantly reduce emissions from ships at berth.
The report identifies three primary barriers and three proposed solutions:
- High capital costs, both within the port and associated with energy network upgrades
- High electricity prices make it difficult to compete with relatively cheap marine fuel
- A lack of consistent demand from shipping, although that may be starting to turn for some parts of some sectors
- a Green Maritime Fund to support emissions reductions projects, including shore power
- The removal of taxes on electricity from shoreside power in line with that available for marine fuel
- Goal-based approach to increasing demand, such as a zero emission berth standard
Commenting on the report, Mark Simmonds, Head of Policy at the British Ports Association, said:
“Shipping remains the most efficient way to move freight to, from, and around the UK. We recognise that whilst emissions from ports and ships are relatively small parts of the emissions puzzle, there is work to do to continue to bring them down.
“Shore power is likely to play a role in reducing emissions from ships in ports in the future, but there are significant barriers to introducing it in UK ports.
“Government investment in green maritime to mirror investment in green vehicles is critical to helping the industry to continue to lower emissions.
We believe that a green maritime fund is needed to support decarbonisation in the ports and shipping sectors, but this alone will not overcome the challenges.
“We want to have a discussion about how a zero emission standard might help lower shipping emissions and bring greater certainty for ports and investors in low emission technology and infrastructure.”