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U.K. Government Asks for Comments on Use of Shore Power at Ports

UK exploring government support for shore power at ports
SHore is enjoying a resurgence as orts look to control emissions (NG3 photo)

Published Feb 7, 2022 7:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

In its latest effort to reduce emissions and speed decarbonization across all sectors of the U.K., the Johnson government is setting its sights on supporting the use of shore power at the country’s major ports. The government is launching a new program to explore the development of cold ironing capabilities saying that shore power will be vital to decarbonizing the maritime sector and improving air quality for local communities.

Maritime Minister Robert Courts is launching the new program to explore the rollout of emissions-cutting shore power at UK ports as a means to accelerate the UK’s ambitions to deliver a greener, more sustainable future for the shipping industry. Launching a “call for evidence” research initiative on shore power during his keynote speech at the annual UK Chamber of Shipping event, the Maritime Minister outlined how, as well as vital environmental benefits, stimulating the innovation of new green technologies will continue the revival of the UK’s shipbuilding industry, bringing private investment, creating jobs and revitalizing coastal communities.

“Shore power will end the outdated practice of ships keeping their engines running while anchored in port, reducing the poisonous fumes entering the air and ensuring we meet our net zero 2050 goals,” said Courts. 

While shore power is a well-accepted technology that is gaining new momentum in Europe as ports seek tools to address reducing emissions, it is not without its challenges. The British Ports Association recently discussed the topic saying, “But where’s that power coming from? Electrification is going to be key to so much of the decarbonization work required in our ports, but it’s not going to be as simple as installing a few solar panels or wind turbines and thinking that will provide the answer. There are costs to consider and implications of infrastructure that need careful consideration. We need to be mindful that this will have a significant impact on electricity networks and will require a comprehensive energy infrastructure strategy to adopt sustainable technologies.”

The BPA told a story anecdotally that at least one port that was at the point of buying a fleet of electric vehicles, only to discover at the last minute they didn’t have access to enough electricity to charge them, forcing them to revert to diesel equipment instead. 

Responding to the announcement from the Maritime Minister, Mark Simmonds, Director of Policy and External Affairs for the British Ports Association, said “This call for evidence is a step forward and will help us all better understand the current barriers to delivering more shore power to ships.”

Between now and late April, the government is inviting views on different aspects of supporting the deployment of shore power and the provision of shoreside electrical power to a docked vessel while its engines are shut down in the UK. They are asking for input on the cost of shore power, benefits including the potential of emission reduction and the scale of vessel emissions at berth as well as the options to enable the rollout of this technology.

Commenting on the plan, Tim Morris, CEO at the UK Major Ports Group, the trade association representing larger commercial ports in the U.K. said, “Shore power has the potential to play a positive part in the future of zero emission maritime, although it is an area that currently faces some significant challenges. The call for evidence is, therefore, an important step in finding the right, viable ways that industry, government, and networks can work together to support the wider deployment of shore power where it is an appropriate solution.”

The government will accept comments till April 25 and then use the information to develop a policy for the future of shore power in the U.K.