Cruise lines are equipping ships to plug into shoreside electricity

One of the ways that the cruise industry is playing a direct role in delivering new benefits to local communities is through environmental initiatives such as the use of shoreside electricity.

Using shoreside electricity enables the ship engines to be switched off, reducing carbon emissions while the ship is berthed. Cruise lines are making substantial investments to equip ships to be able to plug into shoreside electricity.

How many cruise ships can connect to shoreside electricity?

Cruise ships may only represent a tiny proportion of the world’s shipping fleet, but they are committed to playing a big part in the decarbonization of the maritime sector. This is shown by the fact that so many cruise ships are being equipped to connect to shoreside electricity.

Around 40% of the global cruise fleet by capacity has already been fitted to operate on shore-side electricity. This represents an increase of 20% year on year and the numbers are expected to continue to rise.

In fact, it is anticipated that 209 CLIA member ships - which represents around 75% of the global cruise ship fleet by capacity - will be capable of connecting to shoreside electricity in the next five years.

Where can cruise ships connect?

Even when fitted with the necessary equipment, ships can only plug into ports which have put in place the necessary infrastructure to provide the electricity to the ships. Currently, there are 29 ports worldwide which have one or more cruise berths able to provide shoreside electricity. This represents less than 2% of the world’s ports and so there is a long way to go.

What is involved in setting up shoreside electricity?

Setting up the technology requires infrastructures both on land and on the ship. In the port some equipment must be installed to connect to the ship, transmit electricity and ensure the right power. This may be, for example: transformer stations, switchgear devices, frequency converters and other cables or accessories such as safety grounding equipment, electrical vaults, plugs, power, and communications receptacles. Materials may vary from ship to ship, and result in a total investment of around 15 million euros. The ships must be adapted, with installation of an electrical panel and a transformer, as well as adaptation of the onboard software, in a total investment of around 2 million euros.

Consequently, collaboration between ports, operators, and public authorities is vital. There are many factors such as onboard energy demands, and ship technical systems that need to be considered as part of planning.

Why is this important?

By plugging into shoreside electricity supply, cruise lines can switch off ship engines, reducing emissions while the ship is in port. This is important to address an issue that has been raised by communities concerned about ship emissions at their local ports.