Is the use of shore-side electricity a sustainable alternative for a power generator?

By: Jeroen Berger, July 31, 2017

Within all sectors in the maritime industry there is a substantial need for environmentally friendly alternatives. One of them is the extension of short-side electricity spots. This allows ships to turn off all the auxiliary engines (for example power generators) and plug into an electrical grid while at berth. Is the use of shore-side electricity a sustainable alternative for a power generator?


A clean port


The Rotterdam Port Authority is strongly committed to build the most sustainable port of the world. They want to improve the environment detectably and aim for an efficient use of energy. The transition to a clean-burning fuel strategy by shipping companies and ship owners is therefore encouraged.


International developments in the field of shore-side electricity


You can find short-side electricity spots mainly in the United States (US) and Europe. In addition, there is now a clear development visible in Asia. For example, Singapore has meanwhile announced to develop a range of short-side electricity spots. One of the greatest obstacles to a global roll-out of shore-side electricity spots is the energy taxation. The possibility exists that this tax, which is nowadays not applied on Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO), can make sure that this application is no longer a very interesting investment.


The potential effects of shore-side electricity


The Examination Office Ecofys was authorized by the European Commission to investigate the potential effects of shore-side electricity with a special focus on air quality. Based on this study major improvements have been observed in the field of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. Research also suggests that there shall be a clear focus on ships that require a lot of power and are frequently docking in the same location. This applies, for example, to cruise ships, ferries and tankers.


Is there a positive future for shore-side electricity?


If we are looking at the maritime sector, this entire industry becomes by the day more and more sustainable. This question brings into question whether the investment in shore-side electricity in the short term will be a good sustainable alternative for a power generation in the long term. Because the trend in developing more “green” ships is moving further, we believe that shore-side electricity will be a good sustainable alternative for a specific number of vessels, and particularly in areas where the air quality is extremely bad due to the use of power generators.


We believe that a global introduction of shore-side electricity will not be widely supported. It seems that the use of shore-side electricity is only to a limited extent feasible.


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