The ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremen and Haropa (including Le Havre) want to provide large container ships with shore power by 2028. This would mean the onboard generators are not used when the vessels are berthed.

The ships 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.

‘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,’ says Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority.

He adds: ‘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.’

Implementation comes with challenges

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, says the Port of Rotterdam: 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 power on busy quays. At present, only a limited number of container ships are fitted with shore power connections. Consequently, no European terminals have shore-based power facilities for large container ships.

Finally, the current tax rules are unfavourable for shore 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 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 power connection.

Also read: Belgian and Dutch ports want single shore power system

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 power for their clients.

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