Cruise liners docking in Southampton could be plugged into an onshore power supply to stop harmful emissions being blown into the city. Port bosses ABP and cruise giants Carnival UK yesterday said they were considering introducing the low-carbon technology, known as cold ironing, in Southampton.
It would make the port one of the greenest in the country, and comes after a report last year warned that chemicals within smoke from liners, tankers and cargo ships could travel into the lungs of those onshore. The scheme is outlined in the draft Port of Southampton Masterplan 2009, which sets out ABP’s vision for the docks for the next two decades.
The costly technology would most likely only be retrofitted in the short-term at the city’s cruise terminals as many modern liners are already at the cutting-edge of sustainable technology.
If implemented, liners would be made to switch off their generators while berthed. Shore-side generators would then power the vessel’s refrigeration, cooling, heating, lighting and emergency equipment as it loads or unloads. As an added incentive, the electricity could come from the city’s Energy Centre, which has supplied more than half of the port’s power for the past six months.
Southampton City Council highlighted the potential for shore-side electricity in its Air Quality Action Plan. The report found shipping contributes up to a quarter of nitrogen dioxide in the Town Quay area and 17 per cent in Commercial Road. Ports in the U.S., Canada and Germany have already invested millions in the technology to help improve air quality in coastal cities.
Scientists from the University of California last year estimated as many as 60,000 deaths a year worldwide were caused by emissions from ships running on cheap fuel called bunker oil.
There are no restrictions on the types of fuel vessels consume in UK ports; however, the International Maritime Organisation is considering introducing new requirements to use cleaner, more expensive fuels. But they’ve been held up by disagreement between developed and developing countries about who should participate.