ABP’s Rebekah Keeler: ‘The way forward for shore power’

ABP’s Port of Southampton is the first port in the UK to launch a shore power facility for cruise ships. Here, ABP head of cruise Rebekah Keeler shares the journey so far.

Seeing AIDAcosma successfully connecting to shore power at Horizon Cruise Terminal in March was a true milestone moment for us and the realisation of a long-held goal.

We started looking into shore power over a decade ago, and in 2018 we included it in our Clean Air Strategy.

ABP Southampton shore power
ABP head of cruise Rebekah Keeler

That same year, a successful bid to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership’s Solent Prosperity Fund supported bringing the idea to reality.

We knew shore power was the right thing to do and, despite inevitable challenges along the way, we were driven to make it happen.

CLIA research published in 2021 revealed the number of cruise ships within the global fleet with shore power capabilities is increasing, and 82 per cent of new cruise ships ordered are fitted with shore side capability.

Shore power plays a significant role in our sustainability goals at the port, and air quality is a key priority for our council in Southampton, too.

While road traffic is the biggest contributor to emissions in the city, shipping and industry also have a role to play in reducing their carbon footprints.

Shore power and zero emissions

The key benefit of shore power is zero emissions at berth for ships connecting. A ship can switch off its auxiliary engines and draw all the power it needs while eliminating local emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

The system works by enabling a ship to connect to a cable management system that sits on the quayside, and the cable management system connects to the port’s own electrical network.

We knew we could make shore power work in Southampton and, like any ‘first’, there has been learning.

Together, we sought to find a way to make shoreside power a reality at the Horizon and Mayflower Cruise Terminals. A key consideration was being able to provide the significant power a cruise ship needs while in port.

We’ve had a few challenges; disruption within the supply chain during the pandemic and then designing a system that would work for different cruise ships taking into account power requirements, connection points and quayside activities.

In addition, we worked with cruise lines to establish the current shore power capabilities and future possibilities, to ensure our specification matches as many as possible.

We are proud to have commissioned shore power for AIDAcosma, AIDAsol, AIDAprima, Queen Mary 2 and Celebrity Beyond, and we have a variety of vessels booked in over the summer.

So far, we’ve have had 17 cruise calls using the system in the first months of operation and look forward to welcoming many more.

As for the immediate future, we are carrying out feasibility studies elsewhere in the port to explore shore power for other vessel types.

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