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Sep 16, 2008

AMP article for Passenger Ship Technology

AMP article for Passenger Ship Technology

Plugging in and powering up for cleaner ports

Alternative Maritime Power (AMP) is generating growing interest as a valuable tool to help the shipping industry limit its impact on the environment. With continued upward pressure on fuel costs, switching to shore-side power can also make good economic sense.

AMPÔ, or ’cold ironing’, involves ships turning off their generators when in port and plugging into shore-side electricity. Ships require power while docked to run substantial on board services from lighting, telecoms and cooking, to mooring and cargo handling.     The result is that on-board generators emit tonnes of polluting fumes every day. A source of pollution the shipping industry has the chance to tackle cost effectively with the help of AMPÔ.

Fuel used by ships tends to produce high levels of particle matter, sulphuric and nitrogen oxides. Both nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxide (SOx) contribute to the acidification of lakes, rivers and forests. The European Commission (EC) estimates that NOx and SOx emissions from vessels operating in the European Union (EU) will exceed land-based emissions by 2020.

Making the AMP comparison

According to research carried out by Entec UK Ltd., ships produce an average of 12.47 NOx (g/kWh) when running their diesel engines in port, while conventionally produced electricity creates 0.35 NOx (g/kWh), or 35 times less.

Similarly, vessels emit 12.30 SO2 (g/kWh), compared to 0.35 SO2 (g/kWh), or 26 times less, from grid-based power generation.

These figures are based on vessels using fuel with an industry average sulphur content of 2.7%.

Sound environmental sense, good economic sense

For container vessels in Europe, switching to AMP from marine diesel would create savings for operators calculated to amount to USD 180,340 per year, per ship, and USD 516,880 per year, per ship.

These calculations vary according to a range of factors including the type of vessel, the length of stay in port, the number of port calls made, and the price of oil. The numbers above were calculated assuming a marine diesel oil price of USD 1,326 per ton, as at July 2008.

Tried and tested

While many see the advantages of cold ironing as genuinely ground breaking, the technique is already tried and tested. Naval vessels, often in port for extended periods, have made use of the technique for many years.

The Cavotec Group, a leading supplier of innovative power solutions, has pioneered emission-reducing systems for the past forty years. The portGothenburg, on the west coast of Sweden, converted a ferry terminal to shore-side power supply with Cavotec systems back in 1978.

Cavotec continues to work closely with international agencies, port authorities, maritime companies and ship builders to develop shore-based and ship-based AMPÔ applications, for a wide range of vessels types including container ships, ferries, Ro-Ro vessels, gas carriers and diesel-electric tankers.

LA success story

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two largest ports in the United States, have seen dramatic improvements in air quality after the introduction of AMPÔ, enhancing the health of port employees and those living in surrounding areas.

“Each ship using AMPÔ saves around one tonne of pollutants per day, giving significant air quality savings for the port area,” says Theresa Adams Lopez, director of media relations at the Port of Los Angeles (POLA).

In a bid to meet growing pressure on air quality, the POLA unveiled the world’s first electrified container port in June 2004.

“We’re very excited about AMPÔ. The ultimate goal is to have all container ships calling at Los Angeles and Long Beach using AMPÔ,” Adams Lopez says.

Under the San Pedro Bay Ports two-billion-US-dollar Clean Air Action Plan, approved in November 2006, some 400 million US dollars are to be devoted to electrifying berths at Los Angeles and Long Beach. The ports plan to offer AMPÔcompatible connections to every vessel making regular calls at their ports by 2011.

In a landmark success for the technology, a post-PANAMAX container vessel successfully transferred to AMPÔ at the POLA in June. China Shipping Line’s 8,600 TEU Xin Ya Zhou is the largest vessel to have hooked up to AMPÔ to date.

“The success of this trial shows that AMPÔ is viable for larger vessels. With the cost of diesel fuel continuing to rise, grid supplied power offers increasingly better value for operators; so AMPÔ makes clear business as well as environmental sense,” says Ottonel Popesco, Cavotec CEO.

Growing interest in AMPÔ was recently highlighted when Cavotec won an order from Taiwan-based CSBC Corporation to supply four AMPÔ units for installation on four new-build container ships. Yang Ming Marine Transport will install the systems on the 6,600 TEU vessels to be built at the Kaohsiung shipyard in Taiwan.

“The CSBC order illustrates the burgeoning interest in AMPÔ, and we hope that more operators will soon start to enjoy the considerable environmental and financial benefits of this simple, but innovative technology,” says Popesco.

Greener and safer

Another area where Cavotec offers a greener and safer alternative to existing maritime practice, is mooring. The group’s vacuum-based automated mooring system, MoorMaster®, eliminates the need for conventional mooring lines.

MoorMaster® holds ships in place far more effectively than traditional ropes by counteracting vessel surge in port caused by changes in wave dynamics. This means ships do not have to use their engines to reposition along the dock, thus cutting emissions and making operations more efficient.

The system is available in different versions designed to combat different conditions. Although first designed for use with container vessels, MoorMaster® is currently being installed in the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada, where the system will moor a wide variety of vessel types. In its latest version, MoorMaster® will serve two high frequency fast ferry routes in Denmark, operated by Nordic Ferry Services A/S.

MoorMaster® has also been installed by Searoad Shipping Australia, Toll in New Zealand, and the Port of Salalah in Oman.

Cavotec is a leading global engineering group, supplying innovative and environmentally friendly systems to the maritime, airport, mining, and general industry sectors. To find out more about the Cavotec group, please visit our website at

For further details on this material, please contact Michael Scheepers, Cavotec MSL Corporate Communications Manager, at