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Leading the charge with shore power upgrades

Making good on our commitment to implement best sustainability practices, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier will add shore power capabilities to Brave Tern and Bold Tern by the end of 2022.

This important upgrade is part of our ESG objectives ‘Reduce CO2 emission in project with 5% in 2022 compared with tender baseline for each project’ and ‘Reduce CO2 emissions in idle periods with 4% in 2022 compared with average 2015 –2020’. It will save significant amounts of fuel needed for electricity generation in port and eliminate the associated air and noise pollution – a win-win for us, our customers, local communities, and the environment.   

What is shore power?

When docked, a vessel doesn’t simply shut itself down. There are many essential systems that must continue to operate, such as lights, heating, cooling, ventilation, pumps, control systems, and more. Typically, the power for these is generated by the vessel’s auxiliary engines, which require diesel oil to run and, inevitably, results in noise and air pollution.

One solution is shore power. This is when the vessel plugs into a port’s power supply, rather than using its auxiliary engines. Shore power is not a new concept; smaller vessels have been drawing power from land-based mains supplies for many years. However, the relatively small amounts of electricity these vessels need (50-100 kW) means they can easily make use of normal grid voltage and frequency.

For bigger vessels with larger power requirements (100 kW up to 15 MW), things get more complicated. Dedicated port installations are required, including upgraded grid capacity, frequency converters, and complex high-power connectors. The same goes for the vessels themselves, which must be made compatible. Nevertheless, the advantages shore power brings to the environment, as well as financially for both ports and vessel operators, makes it likely to be standard operating procedure across the marine industry in the future.

A focus area for the industry

However, an issue with shore power is that very few ports are ready to provide it. Upgrading a port’s infrastructure for shore power is a sizeable investment (up to several 100,000 of EURs) which could take up to a year to complete. As a result, only a handful of ports are shore power-ready, and in APAC, for example, there are practically no ports at all!

Nevertheless, the benefits are too good to ignore, which is why shore power is being moved further up the industry agenda. For example, the European Union Green Deal states: “It [the Commission] will take action in relation to maritime transport, including to regulate access of the most polluting ships to EU ports and to oblige docked ships to use shore-side electricity."

The International Maritime Organization is on board too, saying: "[we are] addressing the need for global standards for the process of providing shoreside electrical power to a ship at berth."

The benefits are too good to ignore, which is why shore power is being moved further up the industry agenda.

Clear and sustainable advantages

At Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, achieving our sustainability goals is something we take very seriously, as we have detailed in our ESG report. This is why we have committed to implementing shore power capabilities on two of our jack-up vessels, Brave Tern and Bold Tern, by the end of 2022, with Blue Tern following at earliest opportunity.

We are also in discussion with our customers about the advantages of shore power, which is something they are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in as part of the tender process. These businesses have their own sustainability targets to meet to satisfy environmental regulations, their own objectives and customer demands, and so this represents a very attractive solution.

And the advantages of shore power are certainly significant! A vessel such as ours typically uses approximately five tons of diesel oil per day when idle in port. Not only is this expensive in terms of fuel, but running auxiliary engines also uses lubrication oil and results in inevitable wear over time. Shore power would therefore save both in fuel, oil, and maintenance costs.

Running these engines also results in 15.8 tonnes of CO2 emissions per day (based on the consumption of 5 tonnes of fuel), which has a direct impact on the environment and can affect the air quality for the crew and for local residents. In addition, the engines also create noise pollution, which if turned off would give a far more pleasant experience for people both on board and on shore (as well as for surrounding wildlife). 

Shore power can also help ports to improve their environmental profile and offer an additional source of income. While this new power supply will of course be a new cost for vessel operators, and may vary from port to port, it would always be a cheaper option compared to burning fuel.

On track to deliver

The process to convert our vessels to shore power is relatively straight forward. It will require pulling of cables from an access point to the main switch board. The access point will house a cabinet for four plugs and the switch board section will be upgraded to take 2000A as well as a new breaker. We will also integrate the system into PMS to sync to the vessel and avoid any shutdowns when connected.

Plans are in place and when done this will greatly reduce the vessels’ environmental footprint and help to extend their operational lifetime. When this new technology is fully implemented in ports, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier will be ready to make use of it, offering yet another advantage for our customers by helping them meet their sustainability targets far into the future.

Read a summary of our ESG report