Making cold ironing make sound business sense



Cavotec MSL, Lugano, Switzerland


Sustainable and efficient, ship-to-shore power supply is growing increasingly popular, but its success is all in the figures

Shore-to-ship power supply is frequently presented as a way for port authorities and shipping lines to substantially reduce environmental impact, while the economic case for shore power has tended to remain more elusive. Rising fuel prices and tightening legislative requirements are however, creating conditions where the economic gains of shore power are becoming increasingly apparent. The Cavotec engineering group has worked with partners in the industry for many years on developing shore-to-ship power supply applications.

“The already widespread use of shore power, upward pressure on fuel prices, and a series of regulatory requirements due to be introduced in the coming years, all combine to make cold ironing an increasingly viable option,” notes Luciano Corbetta, Cavotec Group Market Unit Manager Ports & Maritime. “Not only can shore power deliver environmental benefits, the switch from fuel oil can also offer opportunities for reduced operational costs,” he adds.

Sustainable technology

Shore power – also known as ‘cold ironing’, and Onshore Power Supply (OPS) – refers to the practice of supplying electricity to ships in port to power their onboard power needs. Vessels require electrical power to run onboard services such as heating, lighting, food preparation and, where applicable, container refrigeration and cargo handling. The majority of vessels currently run their engines to generate power while docked.

Most ships use low-grade oil to fuel their engines, which creates substantial amounts of sulfur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter – predominantly soot – that pollutes air in ports and in surrounding communities. Shore power enables vessels to switch off their engines once berthed, and plug into shore-side electricity, thus helping to improve air quality in and around port areas.

The environmental benefits of shore power are well documented. Supporters of the practice point to evidence that shows electricity produced by power stations and used by ships in port can have up to 35 times less nitrate oxide and 25 times less particle matter compared to the heavy fuel normally used by ships when docked [1].

The environmental benefits of shore power are enhanced further depending on how the electricity at a port is generated. For example, electricity supplied to the Port of Gothenburg, on the west coast of Sweden, is produced by renewable energy sources, pr imar ily wind power. The Port of Gothenburg pioneered the use of shore power in the 1980s and continues to develop the technology with partners such as ABB, Stena Line, Processkontroll and Cavotec.

“Some 30 percent of calls at Gothenburg currently use OPS. We aim to offer shore power to all….

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