Rotterdam Seeks to Convert Ocean-Going Ships to Shore Power in Port

Rotterdam converts ocean-going ships to shore power in port
Port of Rotterdam (file photo)

Published Oct 15, 2020 3:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of Rotterdam is launching an ambitious program to increase the use of shore-based power for the sea-going ships calling at the port as part of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve the environment in and around the port. The program seeks to build on the port’s already successful efforts at increasing the use of shore power among the inland vessels sailing from the port.

The Municipality of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam Authority will work together on the joint rollout of shore-based power, a process known as cold ironing, as for sea-going vessels call at the port. The goal is to have a significant portion of the sea-going vessels moored in the port using shore power by 2030. The total cost of the project is estimated at $146 million, with the majority of the cost being covered by the companies involved, the municipality and the port authority. They plan to seek approximately $60 million from public funding.

According to Arno Bonte, Rotterdam’s Vice Mayor for Sustainability, Clean Air and Energy Transition, the plan is a major step forward for sustainability in the port. “Shore-based power allows us to connect vessels to a clean source of power. This prevents both air pollution and noise nuisance – which will improve conditions for local residents and for the surrounding nature areas. Our port will once again become a bit greener.”

According to data from the Port of Rotterdam, sea-going vessels moored in the port annually consume as much electric power as 250,000 to 300,000 households. To generate the power required for everything from the lights onboard to running the machinery aboard the ship, they run diesel generators. Rotterdam estimates the emissions from ships in the port, include 600,000 tons of CO2 and 8,000 tons of nitrogen annually. 

Rotterdam’s shore-based power strategy could result in carbon savings of approximately 200,000 tons per year, according to port officials. While the technology for cold ironing is well established it requires not only the ships to be outfitted for its use, but also the port and local area to have sufficient power capacity on their local grids to support the ships’ requirements. Also, to achieve the environmental benefits, the power needs to be generated in a sustainable fashion.

The Port of Rotterdam in the past few years has successfully fitted virtually every public berth for inland shipping with a shore-based power point. While these vessels require less power than the larger ocean-going ships, the port believes it can extend this model across the port. Also, they highlighted that Stena Line’s ferry at Hoek van Holland is already using shore-based power. Currently, the port in conjunction with Eneco is also working on a shore-based power facility near Rozenburg for Heerema’s offshore vessels, which dock at that location.

“Our vision combines ambition and pragmatism,” says Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. “We will be setting up eight to ten shore-based power projects for a variety of sea-going vessel types. We will be doing this in partnership with companies in the port area and with the shipping companies that use our port. We will continually monitor the results of these projects to learn whether we can speed up the process or need to take a bit more time.”

Over the next five years, the port in cooperation with the businesses in the port and the shipping lines, as well as the municipality, will be initiating a series of projects that are intended to accelerate and scale up the adoption of shore-based power. 

These efforts include fitting the public docks with shore-based power points. The goal is by 2030, to achieve 90 percent utilization of shore power at these locations. Rotterdam will also explore the opportunities to extend the shore-power to the private terminals in the port.

The municipality and the port will also seek to construct new shore-based power capacity for ferries, ro/ro ships, offshore vessels, and cruise ships. The goal is to achieve 90 percent utilization of shore power by 2030 among these categories of vessels.

Among the other categories of vessels, the port recognizes that it will be more challenging due to a variety of issues. The goal is to achieve 50 percent utilization by 2030 from large container ships (over 10,000 TEUs). For special vessels, such as liquid bulk carriers, which the port says are difficult to accommodate with the existing shore-based power facilities, they hope to develop new innovations. 

The partners also plan to evaluate their progress at key points and adjust the implementation to achieve the goal of getting a significant portion of the vessels on to shore power.