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Potential for shore-side electricity

AcidNews June 2015

Connecting ships at berth to onshore power will provide health and environmental benefits by reducing air pollution, greenhouse gases and noise.

A recent study by Ecofys on behalf of the European Commission’s DG CLIMA has investigated the potential for shore-side electricity (SSE) in Europe, including the barriers to implementation, and provides recommendations on policy action that the Commission could take to accelerate the implementation of SSE in European harbours.

When at berth, ships typically burn fuel oil in their auxiliary engines to generate electrical power for communications, lighting, ventilation and other onboard equipment. Ships may also burn fuel oil in boilers, for instance to  supply hot water and heating and to prevent the heavy fuel oil from solidifying.

This combustion of fuel oil results in emissions of air pollutants, including the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, in the port areas, which are often located in or near cities. SSE is an option for reducing unwanted environmental impacts of ships at berth.

According to the study’s mapping of the health benefits of SSE, ports in the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean islands would gain large benefits from NOx reductions.

Concerning SO2, the biggest benefits of SSE are to be found in the Mediterranean area, Ireland and the western part of the UK.

Current SSE projects show that there can be a business case for all parties, says the study. The initial investment for ship owners and in ports is substantial, but can be recouped from lower operating costs.

Furthermore, huge benefits have been documented in terms of reductions in noise and air pollutant emissions.

The study estimates that if all seagoing and inland ships in European harbours in 2020 were to use SSE to cover their energy demand at berth, they would consume 3,543 GWh annually, equivalent to 0.1 per cent of the electricity consumption of Europe as a whole in 2012. In general, the increase in demand is not seen as problematic for the electricity grid, especially considering that expanding the use of SSE is a medium to long-term process.

The study: Potential for Shore Side Electricity in Europe (January 2015). By Ecofys, the Netherlands.

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