Seaports join forces to cut emissions from berthed vessels

24 June 2021
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Five seaports in North-West Europe have agreed to work together to make shipping cleaner. The aim is to provide large container ships in the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremen and Haropa (including Le Havre) with shore-based power by 2028 so that the on-board generators are not used when the vessels are berthed. Vessels will then be connected to the mains power grid through a cable. That is good for air quality and for the climate as it will mean lower nitrogen and CO2 emissions.

CSCL Ocean liner

Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority: ‘Rotterdam already has shore-based power connections for inland vessels at all public berths in the port area. StenaLine in Hoek van Holland and Heerema’s berth in the Calandkanaal are also equipped with shore power. Last year, we launched an ambitious programme to complete around eight to ten shore-based power projects by 2025. Now, this collaborative international effort is also underway. This partnership is crucial to the success of shore-based power. We are going to harmonise how our ports tackle shore-based power. It should lead to standardisation, reduce costs and speed up the application of shore-based power while maintaining a level playing field between ports.’

The implementation of shore power is complicated. For instance, there is uncertainty about future policy, European or otherwise, regarding whether or not shore-based power should be made compulsory. International regulations will be needed so that ports spearheading sustainability do not lose their competitive position. Investments in shore-based power cannot be avoided now: major infrastructure investments are required and these cannot be made without government support. Moreover, there are still too few ready-made solutions for the integration of shore-based power on busy quays. At present, only a limited number of container ships are fitted with shore-based power connections. Consequently, no European terminals have shore-based power facilities for large container ships. Finally, the current tax rules are unfavourable for shore-based power: for the time being, electricity is not subject to energy tax and marine fuel is tax-exempt in most ports.

Shore-based power for container ships by 2028

The ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremen and Haropa (Le Havre, Rouen and Paris) have therefore agreed to make a joint commitment to providing shore-based power facilities for container ships from 14,000 TEU upwards by 2028. In this segment, it is becoming increasingly common for new vessels to be fitted with a shore-based power connection. To demonstrate their commitment and make a clear statement, these ports have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). By so doing, the ports are showing that they will do everything they can to create the necessary conditions and a level playing field to facilitate the implementation of shore-based power for their clients.

In addition, the ports are jointly calling for a clear European regulatory framework for the use of shore-based power or an equivalent alternative. The ports are also asking for an exemption of energy tax for shore-based power and sufficient public funds to realise these shore-based power projects.