Supporting shore power plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Investing in shoreside electricity could help the cruise industry to cut emissions, but ports and cruise lines must strengthen collaboration to ensure success, says Cruise Baltic

Supporting shore power plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions
The Port of Copenhagen is one of 14 ports still deciding whether to invest in shore power facilities for cruise ships

Adopted in September 2020, the European Commission’s proposed European Green Deal aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 to help the European Union (EU) become climate neutral by 2050.  

One of the regulations suggested to help achieve this target was to make it mandatory for all ships to connect to shore power to fulfil all energy needs while docked in an EU port from 1 January 2030. Although there are likely to be exceptions, this implies that both cruise ports and vessels will need to be equipped with shore power capabilities by this date.

Consequently, port network Cruise Baltic commissioned Bermello Ajamil & Partners Europe to survey the shore power investment plans of 40 ports in 10 Baltic countries. 

Results showed that only three Baltic ports are currently supplying shore power to cruise vessels, including Kristiansand in Norway, and Kiel and Rostock in Germany. When asked about future shore power plans for cruise ships, 13 ports revealed they have committed to building facilities, 14 said they have not yet decided, and 13 have either opted not to invest or have never considered it.  

Ports reported several key benefits of investing in shore power, primarily the ability to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from visiting vessels and thereby comply with regulations, fulfil their sustainability goals and meet local demand for decreasing air and noise pollution.  

However, every respondent cited the high costs of installing and operating shore power facilities, which can range from €8 million to €20 million, ($9 million to $22.5 million) as a major issue, with many noting that they do not currently receive enough annual cruise calls to build a viable business case for good return on investment. 

Cruise Baltic and Bermello Ajamil also surveyed Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and MSC Group, which together represent 83.4 per cent of the global cruise fleet capacity. Collectively, they will operate 247 vessels by 2026, at least 56 per cent of which will have shore power capabilities. A further six per cent will possibly be retrofitted with the technology, but plans are yet to be confirmed for 27 per cent of the fleet. Other cruise lines suggested they would consider investing if the facilities were available at more ports on their itineraries.  

Noting that the study has identified both challenges and opportunities, Cruise Baltic director Claus Bødker says: “We recommend that destinations establish proactive dialogues between ports, cruise lines, cities, regional and central governments, and other local stakeholders so they can develop a mutual understanding of the challenges and opportunities related to shore power.  

“Together, they can create joint action plans for environmental investments that will benefit everyone.”

This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
06 January 2022

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