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Port of Mombasa Explores Using Solar Power for Cold-Ironing

Port of Mombasa's container terminal
Port of Mombasa (KPA file image)

Published Jan 29, 2023 11:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of Mombasa is investigating the feasibility of using renewable- energy for its planned shore power operations. The energy and marine consultant ABL group has already examined two possible brownfield sites for installation of a solar photovoltaic plant for power cold ironing (shore power) at the seaport.

The Kenya Ports Authority commissioned the feasibility study following the proposed introduction of a new "Green Port Policy." The plan envisages that all vessels at the port of Mombasa will one day turn off onboard generators and operate from shore power.

“A study conducted in 2021 indicated that 25 percent of vessels’ emissions are generated whilst stationary at the port. Utilizing electrical power from the shore brings significant reductions in emissions. However, this study went one step further in exploring the opportunity to generate the electricity from 100 percent clean local solar PV (photovoltaic) resources, creating an entirely green contribution to the shore power system,” said Aimee Besant, energy storage lead at ABL Group.

In addition, as part of the study’s scope, the ABL renewable energy experts conducted a feasibility study for the port to assess the suitability of installing a 5-10 MW solar plant, the energy from which can be harnessed to install a green energy shore power system.

The study also includes costs of a correctly sized solar plant, an evaluation of the typical vessel's energy demand and the wider energy demands of the port.

The results of the study assessed two possible brownfield sites deemed viable options for solar PV plant development. The work included developing a conceptual design for each site, each designed to maximize the PV output from the sites. The design results were compared to the vessel and port consumption demand and the local cost of heavy fuel to determine that, on a KWh basis, a combination of PV-generated and grid-supplied shore power could be cost-effective compared to traditional onboard generators.

“The study found that significant reduction in the local burning of heavy fuels can be secured from use of cold ironing, resulting in an improvement to local air quality. As cold ironing is being increasingly considered in different countries, this project reflects the scale of the opportunity for other ports around the world to explore the installation of shore power generated from their local green resources,” added Aimee Besant.

The drafting of Mombasa Port Green Policy was commissioned in 2014, led by The Cornell Group Inc. USA and funded by Trade Mark East Africa. One of the key action plans that the policy prioritized was investment in cold ironing systems. This would enable Mombasa Ports to match the emissions reduction targets of world-class ports.