Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A First in Commercial Green Power for Island Community Freight and Passenger Ferry Service  

Orkney Uses Renewable Energy to Cut Maritime Pollution

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Shipping News Feature UK – A project to supply locally produced 'green' electrical power to the MV Hamnavoe, the NorthLink freight and passenger ferry which serves Orkney from the Port of Scrabster on the mainland, is due to get underway shortly. The connection, to supply power to the vessel while she is docked in Stromness, Orkney, is believed to be the first large commercial ship shore connection in the UK, and is just one element of an overarching low carbon travel and transport project for the island town.

This power supply system, known as 'cold ironing', will cut the current overnight carbon footprint from the vessel’s diesel generators and engines, lowering the MV Hamnavoe's fuel consumption by at least 500 tonnes a year and result in a significant reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2). It will also make a contribution towards further reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and noise.

The ferry, which is a shipping lifeline for the island connecting it with the rest of Scotland, will be £160,000 cheaper to service each year as a result of the project. The project is expected to fully pay for itself in 3-years’ time through efficiencies and cost savings. Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

“It is fantastic to see continued progress towards low carbon and sustainable transportation in Orkney thanks to Scottish Government and European Regional Development funding. The innovative ship shore connection at Stromness utilises local renewable energy to help decarbonise the MV Hamnavoe, which will contribute to improved air quality and reduced emissions in the area. The Stromness Multi-modal Low Carbon and Active Travel Hub, further demonstrates the commitment in Orkney to capitalise on a range of sustainable e-mobility options which will benefit health and the environment.”

With the power of wind and tide at their behest, islands off the Scottish coast have been keen to develop and utilise the abundant free energy sources at their disposal, and for this project, the shoreside installation work is being carried out by Schneider Electric, a market leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation. The project will see the installation of a cable connection system to the ship to provide overnight shore power, pier cables and a transformer upgrade, with the power coming through Orkney's own renewable energy resources. Peter Selway, Marine Segment Marketing Manager at Schneider Electric said:

"Marine pollution is a serious but often underreported environmental and public health challenge. Engine emissions from the UK’s fleet at berth amounted to nearly 2.6% of the entire transport sector’s nitrogen oxide emissions in 2016. These pollutants have been linked to many health issues and even early death. Shore connections are a technology that the UK has been slow to adopt despite enormous environmental and commercial benefits.

”By plugging into the power grid with 100% renewable electricity, UK ships at berth could avoid environmental impacts of up to £402 million a year and reduce a major health hazard. Orkney leads the way in renewable and sustainable energy, and we hope this project in particular will bring many benefits, commercial and environmental, to the island, its wildlife and its people.”

The 'Stromness Multi-modal Low Carbon Transport and Active Travel Hub' project has three other elements including an electric bus charger at the ferry terminal, electric chargers for ferry users and all other EV owners, and the procurement of electric bicycles for use by members of the public, plus associated shelters and charging facilities. Councillor Graham Sinclair, Chair of the Council's Development and Infrastructure Committee, observed:

"The vision for this project is to achieve a sustainable future for transport to and in Orkney. This project will provide a unique combination of transport decarbonising initiatives covering ferries, buses, cars and cycles, utilising electricity from Orkney's unrivalled wind and tidal energy.”

£670,000 of funding was secured for the project from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in August last year, with additional funding coming from the Council's Miscellaneous Piers and Harbours fund and HITRANS. The European Regional Development Fund element came from its Low Carbon Travel and Transport Challenge Fund, a capital fund that aims to facilitate the delivery of active travel and low carbon hubs and paths. The Stromness project was the most northerly of nine projects to receive funding in the last round.

Serco NorthLink and Transport Scotland have future-proofed the Hamnavoe main electrical control components through a detailed technical upgrade and rewire offering full compatibility with the cold ironing technology. Stuart Garrett, Managing Director of Serco NorthLink commented:

“This is yet another example of how we’re reducing our environmental impact and doing our bit to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve, in this particular case an initiative for the benefit of the community of Stromness for which we have been pushing for some time. As the lifeline service provider to the Northern Isles we’re proud to be at the forefront of this innovation in the UK.”

Photo: Hamnavoe moors up in busy Stromness harbour.

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