Better air for port residents

Ships need energy also at the quay. In many ports, there are already environmentally friendly “charging stations”. California is particularly far developed. European ports are changing, too.

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When approaching the ports of San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach and Los Angeles, for many years now, ships have been able to obtain energy from “charging stations” during berthing time. Clean green electricity is delivered to them directly on board (also called “shore power” or “cold ironing”). The on-board diesel generators can then remain switched off. Since 2014, 50 percent of every fleet of merchant ships have been using shore power. In 2017, the quota was raised to 70 percent, and by 2020, it should be 80 percent.

The US is thus already one step further in the effort of making ocean freight more sustainable. This is important because shipping is the backbone of the world economy and, by weight, about 90 percent of cross-border trade in goods is handled by sea. Ships therefore also make a noticeable contribution to emissions: in addition to three percent of global CO2 emissions, they account for 15 percent of nitrogen oxide and 13 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions.

Infrastructure in Europe

Especially in ports, this is a problem for port residents: the ship’s diesel pollutes the air and the running engine makes a lot of noise. Therefore, Europe is currently establishing its own infrastructure for shore power supply of ships. In Norway, the city of Kristiansand recently put an aggregate into operation, and there is already such a plant in Lübeck. Kiel will follow shortly. A pioneer in Europe was the cruise terminal in Altona. There has been the first shore power connection for cruise ships in Europe since 2016. The plant was funded with ten million euros by the federal government and the European Union and is supplied with green electricity. To date, only one ship uses the system: the “Aidasol”, which was supplied with shore power in 2018 a total of 22 times, when calling the port in Altona. In addition, there were already test runs of the “Europe 2”. It will be supplied with shore power as of 2019.

“Pioneer California: “Charging stations” in ports can provide ships with clean green electricity.“

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In addition to shore power, container ships could also be supplied with power via a “PowerPac”. The system behind this is a combination of a liquid gas tank and a gas-powered generator. The two containers stacked on top of each other are hoisted on board after the ship is being moored and get connected to the power grid of the ship. The “PowerPac” then delivers up to 1.5 megawatts of power – without unnecessarily polluting the air. The mobile power generator was already successfully tested in Hamburg.