A common work programme has been agreed to promote onshore power supply for European ferries.

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) and global trade association Interferry agreed at a recent meeting to promote onshore power supply (OPS) provision for a sustainable future in European ferry operations.

Ryckbostand Corrigan

ESPO Secretary-General Isabelle Ryckbost and Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan

Key to making this viable is the electrification of ship propulsion, said Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan - and the meeting called on the EU to offer tax exemptions for electricity provided to ships at berth, among other policies such as getting ferry lines to commit to using OPS whenever it is available.

“The agreement notes that, increasingly, many ferries will use OPS not only for their energy consumption at berth, but also to recharge batteries for propulsion - prompting significantly higher power demand that will require correspondong upscaling of the grid network,” the parties said.

First priority for OPS development should be for ferry terminals with a higher frequency of operation, which could be identified with a minimum number of calls per port. 

They also said new fuels and technologies should be encouraged and promoted, and any accompanying regulations should be technology agnostic so that all viable options could be considered. 

“With the exception of OPS, at this early stage it does not seem desirable to impose a requirement to deploy infrastructure for certain other technologies or fuels,” the parties agreed. ”Developments and investments should be based on bottom-up projects and bilateral commitments among different stakeholders.”

Electrification key

“Electrification of ship propulsion is key to meeting massive regulatory challenges for reducing maritime greenhouse gas emissions - interim cuts of some 50% are due by 2030, leading to ‘net zero’ status by 2050,” said Corrigan. ”Ferries are already leading the shipping industry’s transition to hybrid and fully electric systems, but major expansion of the electricity grid network is absolutely crucial to supporting the ultimate objectives.

“To this end, Interferry has embarked on a schedule of meetings with senior decision makers from governments, ports and energy companies to urge investment in OPS infrastructure. I very much value our collaboration with ESPO to work on mutual sustainability ambitions.”

“The greening of shipping is a priority for ports,” said ESPO Secretary-General Isabelle Ryckbost. “The best way to go forward is to engage in dialogue with the different stakeholders. Each segment has its own priorities and solutions. I am very happy we started this dialogue a few months ago with Interferry and can now engage together on an efficient way to reduce emissions at berth.

”Moreover, the role ferry transport can play in greening passenger transport in Europe is severely underestimated. Ferries are connecting people, regions and economies.”