Onshore Power Supply: A Key Player In Shipping’s Green Transition

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  • The upcoming FuelEU regulation, effective January 1, 2025, mandates vessels at EU ports to reduce emissions intensity, while from January 1, 2030, container and passenger vessels must use onshore power supply (OPS) at berth.
  • This transition to OPS aims to significantly reduce port emissions, but faces challenges in costs, infrastructure, and regulation standardization.

The FuelEU regulation is set to transform the shipping industry by requiring a reduction in emissions intensity of fuels for vessels calling at European Union ports starting January 1, 2025. By January 1, 2030, container and passenger vessels at these ports must utilize onshore power supply (OPS) or equivalent zero-emission technology when at berth, instead of relying on fossil or alternative fuels. This shift to OPS can substantially decrease pollutants and greenhouse gases, though it brings significant cost and regulatory challenges.

Onshore Power Supply (OPS)

Onshore power supply (OPS) provides electricity to ships at berth for various needs, such as air conditioning, cargo handling, and maintaining cargo temperature, thereby eliminating the need for onboard fossil fuel burning. This transition results in reduced emissions of pollutants like sulfur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM), and modest reductions in nitrogen oxides (NOx). Additionally, OPS reduces noise, vibrations, and engine wear and tear, contributing to overall environmental benefits. Despite its advantages, the effective use of OPS hinges on sourcing electricity from renewable sources to maximize its positive impact.

Challenges of OPS Implementation

The implementation of OPS faces several challenges. The demand for power varies significantly across vessel types, with passenger vessels and container ships requiring different voltages and power levels. Ports must consider these factors, along with equipment and qualified personnel, to provide OPS facilities. Converting existing ships to accept OPS and maintaining these systems are costly endeavors. High capital costs and lack of a revenue model deter investment, despite OPS’s potential to reduce emissions. Moreover, regulatory uncertainties and varied standards across regions further complicate global adoption.

Opportunities and Recommendations

Despite these challenges, OPS presents significant environmental benefits. Successful examples, like the Port of Bergen in Norway, illustrate the potential of OPS when partnered with renewable energy providers. This port has expanded its OPS systems, demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of such initiatives. However, broader support is needed for OPS to become a global standard. This includes public financing for shore-based infrastructure, competitive electricity pricing, and mandatory regulations for both ports and ocean-going vessels. Ensuring the decarbonization of the electricity grid supplying ports is also crucial for maximizing OPS’s environmental advantages.

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Source: Zero Carbon Shipping