Mobile shore power is particularly fit for smaller ports, study shows

Mobile shore power solutions are particularly suitable for smaller ports or in port sections that are less utilised, a new study finds.

Mobile shore power
Illustration. Courtesy of the Port of Kiel

Commissioned by NOW, the study entitled ‘Mobile shore power – technological possibilities and prerequisites‘, conducted by consultancies Hanseatic Transport Consultancy and MKO Marine Consulting, evaluates technological possibilities as well as prerequisites for the use of mobile shore power solutions in German ports.

It should aid ports in switching to this climate-friendly technology option. The results of the study were presented at the e4ports symposium in Hamburg last week.

Ships docked at ports are usually supplied with electricity with the aid of auxiliary diesel engines – a burden on the climate, but also for residents in the surrounding area of port areas. One solution is the switch to shore power systems that provide noiseless and (locally) emission-free electricity. For this reason, there are plans in almost all German seaports to roll out such shore power solutions.

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In addition, the EU is setting the following target in its ‘Fit for 55’ package: containers and passenger ships that dock for longer than two hours at the port will be obliged to use shore power and must cover the entire energy requirement at berth from 2030 in this manner.

For this purpose, the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) has been supporting both environmentally-friendly onboard power systems for seagoing and inland waterway vessels as well as mobile shore power systems (containerized, rolling or swimming) in the marine funding programme: ‘Onboard power tech’ since 2020.

Because of their greater flexibility, mobile shore power solutions are often a good alternative to stationary systems. However there is a lack of experience here – many mobile solutions are still in the development or testing phase.

Test deployments have revealed various challenges, including licensing issues or acceptance problems. Mobile shore power solutions have therefore hardly been used in (German) seaports.

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The MoLa study aims to support port operation and management companies evaluate shore power solutions in terms of their suitability for their location.

As explained, the most important factor is the greatest possible capacity utilisation of the systems for optimal economic use. Mobile systems can help with this issue because of their flexibility. Smaller ships with energy requirements of under 1.5 MW can be well supplied with mobile shore power units.

On the other hand, ports and terminal facilities that regularly receive larger types of ships generally have more advantages by using stationary shore power solutions.

The MoLa study considered both mobile shore solutions without their own energy generation (direct electricity or battery) as well as those with their own energy generation on location, by means of hydrogen or climate-neutral fuels.

In evaluating the potential, prognoses were used for the further development of costs and availability of the individual energy sources. The result is a checklist for using mobile shore power solutions in ports.

The MoLa study is being conducted as part of the federal government’s implementation of the Mobility and Fuels Strategy (MFS) and is coordinated by NOW GmbH. The port organisations from the port network e4ports have also supported the implementation of the study as an expert advisory board.