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We live in an age when power is critical to our livelihood. Our objective is to present you with industry trends, regulations and best practices, so you can make informed choices that have a positive impact on our lives, for now and the future.

The Electric Future of Transportation

A greener energy mix means an increase in the integration of decarbonized sources of energy in the contemporary age. This is directly linked to an increase in the use of electricity as the source of energy for more and more applications. In other words, switching coal-based or fuel-based applications such as heating, cooling or transport to power from renewable energy sources will lead to an increase in electricity consumption. This increase means a more efficient and sustainable use of energy. Therefore, proper KPIs need to be established to correctly measure and encourage the progress of this key transition in the world economy.

The Maritime Industry

This global electrification trend is directly impacting the maritime transportation. The future fuel for transportation is electricity, not only for road transportation, but also for the shipping industry. Initiatives are flourishing to promote and incentivize the switching over to electricity for vessels when docked, a reality today thanks to the current maturity of shore side electricity solutions and standardization.

While vessels are sailing, the technology is not yet available for the necessary batteries to have electricity as their only source of energy. However, a few limited pilot projects are progressing nicely on the use of battery-powered small ferries on short distance lakes or fluvial itineraries.

In summary, the electrification of maritime transport, as for other applications, is progressing parallel to the integration of more and more renewable and sustainable sources of energy into the land’s grid. This leads to a clear reduction in carbon footprint not only in the coastal and port areas, but everywhere, and not only for CO2 , but also for the rest of the pollutants for our health and the environment (PM, SOX , NOX , etc.) generated when burning maritime fuels.

In the meantime while batteries become economically and operationally feasible for vessels at sea, other emissions reduction alternatives are being adopted such as 0.1% marine gas oil (MGO), LNG, biofuels or exhaust gas-cleaning systems. Depending on the specific application and the time spent in ECA zones (zones where emissions are limited), the use of one or another of these alternatives during a vessel’s sailing time will make most sense. However, for vessels during their berthing time, before considering the use of MGO or LNG, we must apply a longer-term, more ambitious perspective, seeking not only to reduce SOX , but to completely curb the generation of CO2 and the rest of marine air pollutants.

Technological Investment

To invest in shore connection solutions makes most sense for berths where vessels spend several hours to periods of days or even weeks depending on seasonality. This is the case, for instance, for regular ferry and Ro-Ro lines, for offshore supply vessels (OSV), and for many containerized and bulk cargo vessels.

To make shore side electricity implementation a success in a port it is important that a port is already in early stages of a project. And all parties take the time to discuss together and come to an agreement on the costs and prices of electricity versus the cost of fuel, so that there is a return on investment for all.

The investment required for the adoption of onshore power supply has decreased substantially in recent years, becoming affordable, as a result of systems standardization and the availability of prefabricated offerings such as ShoreBoX from Schneider Electric, a pre-tested shore connection solution integrated in a shelter, designed to minimizes projects costs, risks and deadlines.

Credits: Silvia Caballero
Regional Marketing & Business Development Director, Schneider Electric


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