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Much remains to be solved in the shore power issue

31 March 2022

Ships cause large emissions when they are at the quay with engines on to power electrical systems for lighting, ventilation, heating and more. A connection to shore power would of course solve the problem. But according to the final report from the research project Kaj-El, ​​which will guide ports and shipping companies, many issues need to be resolved before all ships can be offered electricity from land.

In Southern California, the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the single largest source of air pollution. Together, they emit more smog- and particle-forming nitrogen oxides than all 6 million cars do in the region, and ship pollution is estimated to cause more than 1,300 deaths a year. Los Angeles is of course an extreme case, but that ships in ports cause large emissions is well known - a Norwegian study that measured emissions in the port of Oslo showed that ocean-going ships emit the most carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other particles when lying at the quay.

“We must find new ways to reduce emissions from the shipping sector and one is to connect shore power to ships that are at the quay. This has received a lot of attention in recent years, especially in Sweden where we have a lot of green electricity”, says Vendela Santén at SSPA, one of the researchers who participated in the two-year project Kaj-El.

The project report Connecting vessels to shoreside electricity in Sweden shows that Sweden is at the forefront of the area. Nine of the country's ports have electricity connections for ships in port and a few more, e.g. Umeå as recently installed and Gävle will offer this in the near future. So far, it is mainly focused on the ro-pax and ferry segment

"It is a fairly small part of the traffic, but it is in that segment that there is a strong business case. There is usually a fixed line between two ports, for example Stena which runs between Gothenburg and Fredrikshamn. Stena has been able to connect in Gothenburg and now there is also a collaboration with Fredrikshamn to invest in the infrastructure around shore power. It is more difficult for container traffic wich visits many ports, where it preferably needs to be possible to connect to several of the ports for the business case to be strong enough."

The report provides guidelines that can facilitate technical choices. Should you have high voltage or low voltage? At what frequency? Should the ship have a cable or is it on land?

Another important issue, both for shipowners and ports, is of course the financing component.

“This requires large investments and you need to have receive partial funding from somewhere to be able to invest in this. Klimatklivet has, for example, given money to the port of Gothenburg and a couple of shipping companies to get this done on tankers”, says Vendela Santén and continues:

“Then we have the port's cost model. Should a fee be charged to those who join or be part of a general port fee? Or maybe this should be something that burden those who do not join and cause emissions?”

Another challenge is the electricity supply in the ports. Electricity and network companies need to enter the process early to ensure that the capacity needed can be delivered.

“This is an issue that we want to work on further. We have proposals for projects where we look further at what the total need for shore power looks like in the future and what supply capacity is available in Swedish ports.”

There is a need for this. Development is rapid and the pressure is increasing in both a national and international context. In Sweden, for example, the County Administrative Board is pushing for the ports to review the issue of shore power, while the EU's climate package Fit for 55 contains proposals that set requirements for electricity connection for container vessels.

Kaj-El has been financed by the Swedish Transport Administration's shipping portfolio and led by SSPA. The Swedish Maritime Association, the Ports of Sweden and the University of Gothenburg have also participated. The report Connecting vessels to shoreside electricity has been written by Nicole Costa, Jon Williamsson, Johan Ekholm, Vendela Santén, Sara Rogerson and Martin Borgh.

Read the report

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