When Cruise Ships Plug In, Ports Prosper

Having the ability to “plug in” to cleaner shore-based electric power, rather than burning diesel fuel when in port, allows cruise ships to eliminate a jumbo-sized carbon footprint. At a number of ports in the United States, ships are doing just that. Now, the Canadian government has announced that it is continuing its commitment to limit air emissions from the Canadian transportation sector by inviting applications for funding under the Shore Power Technology for Ports Program.

The program will provide cost-shared funding for the installation of marine shore power at Canadian ports that allows ships to plug into the local electrical grid to power the vessel and turn off their diesel engines when docked.

In January, the Government announced it would be making a further $27.2 million investment into the program to help reduce air emissions from ships, encouraging more ports to participate in the program.

“Our investment in shore power will reduce emissions from ports, support a cleaner environment and protect the health of Canadians by improving the quality of air we breathe,” said Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport in Portworld. “This program will boost the competitiveness of Canadian ports, provide new opportunities for growth in the tourism sector, and create jobs across the country.”

Ports and cruise lines are making an ongoing effort to grow the industry in an environmentally responsible matter. The Port of Los Angeles has the ability to provide shore-side power to three different cruise lines. Using shore-side power, ships from Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line can now turn off their polluting engines while in port.

Also in California, the Port of San Diego gained the plug-in ability in 2010, fitted for Holland America ships. Holland America Line’s Oosterdam was the first to plug in to a similar system, also designed to help cruise ships go green. Initially, the Port of San Diego system can handle one ship but plans are for this system to take on more ships in the future too.

For those ports, it has been smooth sailing on the ability to have ships plug in. But for one other port it has been a stormy sea of setbacks.

More than a year ago, Brooklyn’s Red Hook cruise ship terminal was on schedule to be the first East Coast cruise operation to let ships plug in. Now, ships have still not plugged in and continue to spew pollution into the air, which area residents are fuming about.

“It seems fairly pathetic that all of these things are in place but the Port Authority are twiddling their thumbs,” Adam Armstrong, 48, a blogger and father of two who lives on Pioneer Street near the terminal, told the Daily News. “I thought it was quibbling over a small amount of money considering the impact of the emissions on people’s health.”

It has been almost three years since Carnival Corporation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Port Authority first agreed to enable cruise ships to plug in to green shore-side power.

Cruise ships annually bring 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 95 tons of nitrous oxide and 6.5 tons of particulate matter to the Brooklyn area when they park and burn their diesel engines.

In April of 2011, Gadling reported that the $15 million project would be funded with $12 million from the Port Authority, nearly $3 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant and Carnival Corporation would spend $4 million to retrofit their Princess Cruises and Cunard Line ships that dock in Brooklyn.

[Flickr photo by Tiago Daniel]