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Latest EU proposals – another €€€ headache

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You may have seen this week's headlines from Brussels regarding President von der Leyden's latest environmental proposals. They include some big changes for the marine industry.

The full document is naturally very dense as you can probably guess from the title:


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in maritime transport and amending Directive 2009/16/EC

I'm still wading through the 150 or so pages. [In a previous incarnation I used to skim through this sort of Brussels paperwork for breakfast and have radio and print packages ready before lunch. But I'm afraid that as I get older, the jargon gets denser, the proposals get more complex and so it simply takes me lo-o-o-onger.]

But here are the points that I've deciphered so far.

  • Ship exhaust emissions will be included in the EU emission trading scheme, which means that shipowners will have to buy emissions quotas to berth in EU ports. You don't need to be an expert to forecast that means the price of quotas will almost certainly increase
  • New limits  will be introduced on the greenhouse gas content of marine fuels used by ships calling at European ports – I assume this means the emissions rather than the chemical content of the fuel
  • Cold ironing – use of shore power – will be compulsory from 2030 for both passenger ships and container carriers. This will apparently apply to ferries which spend more than 2 hours in port, so could it be an incentive to even faster turnround times?  

There's what looks like lots of interesting discussion on new[er] fuels including LNG [I can't understand how the word Honfleur suddenly emerged unbidden from my keyboard] and, as always pages of data that's beyond me.

For everyone who's eager to know the full facts, here's the link:


First thoughts:

  1. How much will the emissions trading add to BF's fuel bill – will this have a significant impact on fares?
  2. Will the current generation of scrubbers be adequate to comply with new, even more stringent fuel / emission standards – if not will owners have to speed up fleet renewals?
  3. In that context, what are the cost implications of retrofitting existing vessels with cold iron connections? I remember a shipping seminar some years ago at which a senior manager from [I think] Royal Caribbean said retrofitting could cost 8–10x more than installation in a new build.
  4. Given the cost of shorepower installations at ports, what are the implications for smaller ports and those with less frequent services? 

Just on the latter point, one of the most recent cold iron installations is at Bergen, where five cruise / ferry terminals have provided with connections at a total cost of about €10million. Nearer to home, Dunkerque has installed an 8MW facility at the Flandres container terminal. This has cost about >€3million. 

But in any port power installation the final ship-to-shore interconnect – the "marine mains lead" – is the simplest and cheapest part. The big bills come in providing the supply and converting it to marine-friendly standards. I don't think smaller towns such as Ouistreham, St Malo and Roscoff will have many spare MW of power capacity available, so we're talking kilometres of high-voltage cable – either pylons or underground. The proposed regs do have a get-out, saying that ports do not need to provide cold iron supplies if the cost and technical complexity would be too high, or the quayside and onboard equipments are not compatible. 



Edited by kenw
correction of text
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Most likely be the end for marginal routes - Newhaven-Dieppe most likely possibly Poole-Cherbourg (ducks)

10 years though, lot can change, and fleet replacement, Bretagne, Normandie Barfleur will likely all be gone/replaced.

Certainly expensive infrastructure improvements, which, whilst good, certainly going to boost prices.

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Just had a quick look at the electrical distribution map around Ouistreham, St Malo and Roscoff.

St Malo is unlikely to have issues with power as there are grid lines connecting the Rance Tidal Barrage to France's grid network running through the south of St Malo, with a branch going north into the city ending at a grid substation 2.4 km (1.5 miles) from the port. The nearest local primary substation around 880m away. Not far if a new direct connection to the grid is required.

For Ouistreham too, the nearest local primary substations are around 880m away if the port does not have sufficient capacity already. For Roscoff there is little information available. If a new direct connection to the HV grid is required, Roscoff has a grid connection 4.8 miles (7.7 km) away, while Ouistreham is a little further at 5 miles (8 km) down the canal. 

And if the UK in is step with the EU, the power supply to Portsmouth will probably need re-enforcing to cope with evening rush hour. The primary DNO substation is around 400m away on the other side of the M275. If that or the cabling cannot be uprated to cope, the nearest grid supply is 2.3 miles away over the bridge.

All this has been on cards for a while, so hopefully ports will already have made plans.

An alternative of course is the next new ferries will be hybrid in some form, running on battery power in port and LNG, or even ammonia if they can develop the technology fast enough, for the main crossing. Will BF and others hold on to their older ships until such times these forms of propulsion are cheaper propositions nearer the 2030 deadline.

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