Container ships lie at the quay in the port

Ship to shore power: 5 exciting reasons why it’s time to invest

A shore power connection will save fuel and cut your vessel emissions – here are five more exciting reasons why it’s time to invest in ship to shore power!

Electricity has a huge part to play in tackling decarbonisation in many industries. Shipping is no exception – being able to plug your ship into the local power grid when at port reduces emissions and saves fuel. Here are five other intriguing ways your vessel could benefit from a ship to shore power connection.

Cold ironing is the process of using shoreside electrical power – or shore power – for the hotel load of a ship in port, meaning it can keep its main and auxiliary engines powered down. The amount of power we’re talking can be significant – a large RoPax vessel, container ship or cruise liner in port can consume enough electricity to power a small city. By connecting to shore power, ships can reduce their emissions and fuel costs, leading to lower operational costs.


Ship to shore power saves fuel and cuts vessel emissions

Just one single container vessel might have an hourly electricity demand of 4,000 kWh.

On a 10-hour port stay that translates into enough electricity to power 10 average four-person households for a year!

Now multiply this by the number of container ships in the world – the fuel and emissions savings offered by ship to shore power will be a big step forward for maritime decarbonisation.


What are the benefits of a shore power connection?

Aside from the significant fuel and emissions savings, there are many more excellent reasons why it’s time to invest in shore power:

  1. Shore power can be green power
  2. Regulations are making shore power more widely available
  3. Standards are already in place for ship to shore power
  4. Shore power can be used to charge your vessel’s batteries
  5. Expert systems integrators can help

Let’s look at each of these in detail.


1. Shore power can be green power

To meet increasingly strict decarbonisation targets, it’s important to use green energy instead of fossil fuels whenever possible. In many European countries today, up to 50% of electricity is generated from renewable sources like wind, hydro or solar power. This makes shore power an extremely green option. The potential impact of consistent usage of green shore power can be huge, reducing fuel consumption and emissions by as much as 10% depending on the vessel type and trade. Connecting to shore power also reduces wear and tear on auxiliary engines.


2. Regulations are making shore power more widely available

If you’ve not yet invested in a shore power connection for your vessel, it might be because the ports you use don’t have the right infrastructure. But this is changing at speed.

The problem has been that ports haven’t invested in the technology without the customers to use it – but customers won’t invest until the infrastructure is there. Now regulators around the world are taking action and governments are making it mandatory for ports to install shore power facilities. They are even co-funding projects as part of their decarbonisation efforts. There are hundreds of such projects on both US coasts, throughout Europe and at the large Asian port hubs.

From 2030, all container and passenger ships will be required to connect to shore power when they are in a Trans-European Network port for more than two hours. It is likely that similar legislation will soon be more common worldwide, making a shore power connection essential on board.


3. Standards are already in place for ship to shore power

It’s easier to use a shore power connection when most ports have a standardised system. Luckily common standards already exist, so vessels can plug in wherever in the world they’re sailing to.

IEC 80005-1 describes a high-voltage solution for container, RoRo and cruise vessels and LNG carriers and tankers. This standard can also be applied to pure car truck carriers and RoPax vessels such as ferries and superyachts.

IEC 80005-3 regulates a low-voltage solution for all vessels that need up to 1 MW shore power, for example bulkers or offshore vessels. Regardless of the solution in question, it must be approved by a classification society.

IEC 62613-2 and IEC 60309-5 regulate plugs, socket outlets and couplers, ensuring compatibility and interchangeability.

These global standards mean you can invest and know that wherever in the world your vessel travels, it can find a port to plug into.


4. Shore power can be used to charge your vessel’s batteries

You now know about the benefits of using a shore power connection – especially one that can supply renewable electricity – for hotel load when in port. This significantly reduces a vessel’s emissions and fuel consumption. But there is also another way to use shore power: for charging your vessel’s batteries.

For fully electric ships or hybrid ships with both engines and batteries, a chargeable onboard energy storage system allows the ship to sail without using its engines. If the electricity is generated from renewable sources, using the onshore power grid for charging means the vessel can achieve fully zero-carbon operations when running on battery power alone.

Handpicked related content: Looking for more ways to cut your vessel’s greenhouse gas emissions? Here are 50 ways in one eBook: 50 great ways the maritime industry could reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.


5. Expert systems integrators can help

Most vessels need medium-voltage technology for shore power. This means you will need an experienced provider who can design and install the needed systems and strictly follow established design rules and installation best practices. With the right systems integrator partner, you can add a shore power connection to your ship without docking or taking it out of operation.

There are only a handful of engineering teams in the world with experience of designing and delivering shore power installations on commercial vessels. One of them is Wärtsilä, with 150 vessels around the world already benefitting from a Wärtsilä shore power solution. Most of these vessels use the Wärtsilä Shore Power Container (SPC) system, a containerised retrofit solution. Working with an expert system integrator like Wärtsilä will ensure you have a safe, functional and reliable shore power system – helping you save fuel, reduce emissions and gain all the benefits detailed above.

Learn more about Wärtsilä shore power solutions.

Written by
Amanda Thurman

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