Reducing the environmental impact of port operations through onshore power supply



Åsa Wilske, manager sustainability, Port of Gothenburg, Sweden


The Port of Gothenburg was one of the first ports in the world to offer onshore power supply with high voltage to commercial vessels. This is a technology that reduces local air pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions and noise to a minimum when using environmentally labeled energy. In total, one in every three vessels that calls at the Port of Gothenburg can now turn off its diesel engines at the quayside and use onshore power supply instead. In November 2011 the port received the Energy Globe Award for its achievements.

How did it all start?

As early as 1989, the first two of Stena Line´s ferries were adapted to use onshore power supply with low voltage, they were Stena Germanica and Stena Scandinavica operating to German ports. Since then the technology has developed and the first ship connected to a high-voltage onshore power supply (OPS) in Port of Gothenburg was in January 2000 and it has since then become a major success. The big difference between low and high voltage is that the number of cables can be reduced from ten to one and that the connection time are also reduced from around 20 minutes to at the most five minutes.

Stora Enso, one of the world’s leading pulp and paper companies, was a prime mover in Port of Gothenburg’s onshore power supply investments with high voltage in the late 90s. The company wanted to be environmentally friendly-adjusted in all the links of its supply chain for its paper transports from Sweden to the rest of Europe. Gothenburg was one of the ports competing for Stora Enso’s business, and it was determined to put together the greenest and most environmentally smart offer. Per Lindeberg, the port’s chief electrical engineer at that time, had already been looking at the feasibility of supplying vessels in the port with electricity from a land based source, instead of running the ships’ auxiliary engines. He reasoned that this would cut ships’ emissions radically and also reduce the noise – which would benefit both the surrounding environment and also improve the working conditions at the port. Everyone was in favor of the idea – so the challenge was to find a solution that would work. A creative cooperation was developed between the shipowners, Cobelfret and Wagenborg Shipping, and the supplier of the electrical equipment. The Swedish government contributed with some funding.

Important milestones

2000 – The inauguration of the world´s first OPS installation with high voltag

The inauguration of the first installation of onshore power supply with high voltage for commercial vessels in the RoRo terminal is how it all started. When we started our investment in the technology in 2000, most European ports had low interest in the technology and we were one of the few ports talking about onshore power supply as an interesting solution. Today, ten years later, the situation is the opposite and it is a technology that many ports and shipping companies are considering.

2004 and 2008 – Environmental awards

The port receives the European Union Commission’s new environmental prize, the Clean Marine Award in 2004 and Lloyd's Lists Clean Seas Award in 2008 for its work with onshore power supply.

2008 – Stena Line invests heavily in OPS

Stena Line announces that the majority of its vessels in the Scandinavian ports will be equipped for OPS before 2010 or 2011.

2008 – Climate investment grant

The port receives a climate investment grant from the Swedish Environmental Agency to supply electricity at all berths at the RoRo terminal. 30 percent of he investment costs on the quayside would be covered by this grant.


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