An Introduction to Shore Power

Let’s begin with the basics, shore power or shore supply is the provision of shore side electrical power to a ship at berth while its main and auxiliary engines are shut down. Shore power saves consumption of fuel that would otherwise be used to power vessels while in port and eliminates the air pollution associated with consumption of that fuel, as well as reducing noise.

Shore power is great, if everything aligns to allow it to work as intended. 

Factors that need to be considered when determining the viability of shore power include:

  1. Shore power is generated in a cleaner manner than shipboard power
  2. The shore side power can provide enough reliable energy to allow the vessel to shut off its engines
  3. The ship needs to be in port long enough to make it worthwhile to “plug in” – it can take up to 45 minutes after docking and before leaving to facilitate the process of connecting shore power and shutting down engines
  4. A critical volume of ships calling into the port need to be shore power capable
  5. The cost of power per KwH and the cost of installation must be low enough to incentivize ship owners to plug in

The land-based source for shore power may come from grid power from an electric utility company, but there is also a possibility for an external remote generator. These generators may be powered by diesel or renewable energy sources such as wind or solar. However, to install a shore power station, it takes a sufficient source of power to sustain it and financial support, from government for example.

Provided the shore power is generated through clean energy, it can completely eliminate any emissions associated with running diesel engines.  If the power is not clean, it simply moves the emissions to a different location.

So, why is there not shore power at the Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal?

There are a lot of reasons shore power hasn’t been installed at the  Victoria Cruise Ship Terminal, but one of the biggest reasons is that the terminal does not currently have access to enough power to adequately support a full-size cruise vessel.  The terminal has shore power in place for the Cable Innovator, which has significantly lower power demands than most of the vessels calling to the terminal. For larger vessels with thousands of guests and crew, the individual power demand, or hotelling power requirement, is higher.

Standardization is also an interesting issue, since, the location of the plug on the vessel is not standardized, even though the plug on the vessels are.

A decision to invest in shore power to service the larger vessels has not been made as yet, partially due to availability of power, the number of ships that are shore power enabled, a sufficient business case, and the cost vs. operational reality.

Shore power is an effective way of reducing air emissions and improving local air quality. Additionally, by providing ship operators with an alternative to running diesel auxiliary engines while docked, shore power technology also reduces ship owners’ fuel costs.

The next steps in this process and moving towards establishing shore power at our terminal  is continued consultation, investigation, and research.

We are currently working with Synergy Enterprises on a full-scale emissions inventory of the entire terminal, including ship emissions, ground transportation, and our building infrastructure. With this information, due to be delivered mid-summer, we will have the ability to fully-develop a business case to further reduce emissions, continue our path forward to improving energy efficiency, and determine the best options on the topic of shore power.