ABL investigates solar-powered cold ironing at Mombasa Port

Energy and marine consultancy ABL Group has investigated two possible brownfield sites for the installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) plant to generate renewable energy-powered shore power at the Port of Mombasa, Kenya.

ABL Group

As part of the study, ABL’s renewable energy experts conducted a feasibility study to assess the suitability of installing a 5-10 MWp solar plant, energy from which can be harnessed to install a green energy shore power system.

Specifically, the scope of work included the provision of a cost indication of a correctly sized solar plant, and an evaluation of the typical vessel consumption demand and wider energy demand of the port and berth.

The results of the study assessed two possible brownfield sites deemed viable options for solar PV plant development, following desktop reviews by the ABL team.

The work included developing a conceptual design for each site, each designed to maximise the PV output from the sites.

The design results were compared to the vessel and port consumption demand and the local cost of heavy fuel oils to determine that, on a kWh basis, a combination of PV-generated and grid-supplied shore power could be cost effective compared to traditional onboard generators.

“The study found that significant reduction in the local burning of heavy fuel oils can be secured from the use of cold ironing, resulting in an improvement to local air quality,” said Aimee Besant, energy storage lead at ABL Group.

“As cold ironing is being increasingly considered in different countries, this project reflects the scale of the opportunity for other ports around the world to explore the installation of shore power generated from their local green energy resource, as well as the additional potential when combined with energy storage solutions such as lithium batteries or hydrogen.”

The project was commissioned following the proposed introduction of the Green Ports Policy by the Kenyan Ports Authority, envisaging that all vessels at the port of Mombasa are to turn off onboard generators and operate from shore power.

Besant added that “a study conducted in 2021 indicated that 25 percent of vessels’ emissions are generated whilst stationary at port. Utilising electrical power from shore brings significant reductions in emissions. However, this study went one step further in exploring the opportunity to generate the electricity from 100 percent clean local solar PV resources, creating an entirely green contribution to the shore power system.”

The officials also noted that although this study was designed to assess the feasibility of solar PV generated cold ironing, it has been expanded to explore the feasibility of additional renewable power sources or energy storage.