Shore power connection, an at berth solution favoured by the navy, is set to play a major role in shaping the future energy requirements of the commercial shipping industry due to future mandatory requirements within Europe and tightening global environmental and emissions regulation.
By 2025 it will be mandatory for European ports to implement shore connection systems. In the lead up to this defining European deadline, will the ships circumnavigating European waters be ready to plug in and reap the benefits?
Shore power connection is a practice more commonly known to many within the maritime industry as ‘cold ironing’, alternative marine power (AMP) or onshore power supply (OPS). It is a practice whereby shore side electrical power is provided to ocean-going vessels when a ship is at berth in a port, in order to power core processes and allowing them to shut down auxiliary diesel engines and/or generators when docked.
Therefore, when a ship ‘plugs in’ to the shore power supply, the auxiliary engines and/or generators can be switched off, thus eliminating the negative side-effects of auxiliary engine combustion.
However, shore power connections not only protect ship operators from regulatory non-compliance at the ports, this technology solution can generate serious fuel savings. Schneider Electric has calculated that a cruise liner could save £319k per year by using a shore connection, versus running onboard generators at berth.
The majority of modern ports are not equipped to provide shore power connections, and likewise, most ships do not have the facilities to be able to be plugged into the electricity network at the port. However, in recent years significant steps have been made globally towards the use of shore connection technology through the development and adoption of the IEC/ISO/IEEE 80005-1 standard. This standard is of vital importance as it sets the general requirements for shore connection systems in ports (voltage rates, cables, sockets, standardisation, etc.) and enables ships to plug in to any port worldwide and is catalysing shore connection technology deployment in commercial shipping.
However, despite the multiple benefits that investing in shore connection technology can bring for the ship operator and the ports, one major barrier remains – who should invest first? The ports or the ship owners? It is perceived by many within the industry as a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario. Ports may not invest until ship owners build or adapt ships that are shore power connection ready, and ship owners may demand that ports have the shore connection infrastructure in place before they invest in adapting their ships.
To break this cycle, it is imperative that ship owners and operators work collaboratively with ports to implement this technology which has considerable benefits for all of those involved. However, it is also important that ship owners look at investing outside of what the ports are doing.
In order to address this scenario Schneider Electric have taken a key role in leading the commercial shipping industry to implement shore connection solutions through supporting both the ports and the ship operators.
For the ports, Schneider Electric have developed ShoreBoX, a plug and play system that uses efficient Grid Frequency Converters and a modular design. The ShoreBoX solution is adaptable to the different power demands and electrical frequency of the ships and, due to a Static Grid Frequency Conversion system, ShoreBoX transfers just the energy needed at any given moment, no more.
Ports themselves are beginning to realise that planning for shore power is necessary, particularly as new container port developments in China, the Middle East and Asia will provide shore power connection facilities. European ports and vessel operators trading between European ports can obtain significant funding for shore power implementation through the European Commission’s TEN T transport infrastructure policy and various national funds.
For the ship operators and all other parties interested in shore power connection technology, Schneider Electric will be hosting a seminar with Fathom entitled ‘FOCUS Seminar: Shore Power for the Ship Operator’. This seminar will be hosted at the UK Chamber of Shipping, London on Tuesday 25th November 2014. Key ship operator-specific resources will be delivered at this seminar.
Individuals and organisations interested in learning more about what shore connection can offer the shipping industry are advised to join Schneider Electric and Fathom for this free to attend event.
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