Connecting passenger ships to the future



Lorène Grandidier, Shore Connection Marketing Manager, Schneider Electric, Grenoble, France and Luciano Corbetta, Ports and Maritime Market Unit Manager, Cavotec, Milan, Italy


Port authorities and shipping companies worldwide need cost-effective techniques to reduce air and noise pollution, which in turn benefits those living and working in and around ports. Principal amongst these methods are shore connection systems that supply land-based electricity to berthed ships, thereby eliminating the need to burn heavy fuel oils with a high sulphur content to generate on-board power. This process is known as ‘cold ironing’, alternative maritime power (AMP), or shore power. In this article, we review the future of shore power technologies for the passenger vessel segment.

A solid environmental profile builds stronger brands

“Maintaining a positive brand image is a key factor for cruise lines and ferry companies in what are fiercely competitive industries,” says Luciano Corbetta. Most cruise and ferry terminals are operated in, or close to urban areas, prompting many cruise and ferry operators to make substantial investments in technologies that reduce environmental impact. Shore power systems, such as those developed by Cavotec and Schneider Electric, reduce vessel emissions in port and help improve air quality in surrounding communities. Thus passengers and local residents breathe fresher, cleaner air; and with the added benefit for cruise and ferry operators that fresher, cleaner air becomes part of the positive experience of being onboard the ship. Cruise ships have substantial power requirements, (up to 20 MVA), and therefore consume large amounts of fuel while berthed, which in turn is a considerable source of pollution. A typical cruise ship, with a power requirement of 12MW, at berth for eight hours, produces 1.2 tonnes of nitrogen oxides. This is the equivalent of 10,000 cars and 30 kilograms of particulate matter, or 6,000 cars being driven from Paris to Berlin (1,000  kilometres). For passenger ferry applications, in addition to environmental benefits, return on investment for a shore connection system can be very fast. Due to their smaller size, shore power ferry applications tend to require a lower level of investment. In addition, occupation rates are often higher for ferry berths than for cruise berths. This makes shore connection attractive from a financial as well as an environmental perspective. Furthermore, in Europe ferry traffic operates in many areas where shipping emissions are tightly regulated. The Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel are listed as emissions control areas (ECAs). Ships operating in these zones will face further restrictions that come into effect in 2015. The EU is also providing technological support by granting financial incentives for investments in shore power. The trans- European transport network (TENT), an EU initiative, includes shore connection in its port modernisation programmes.

How has shore power for passenger vessels progressed?

Shore connection systems were launched …

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