Bergen awaits the first connection of its new shore power facilities
Even Husby, head of environment Port of Bergen, who has been a main and key driver of the project, estimates that of the calls originally planned this year, 150 would have been from ships equipped for shore power connection.
“The construction of these facilities ensures that all the ships arriving in Bergen can now receive shore power. We will prioritise ships that can use shore power and we will limit the number of ships coming in at one time in accordance with municipality regulations, which is three,” explains Maria Bos, chief executive officer Plug.
Right from the beginning, when the first low voltage connection point for cargo ships was installed in 2015 (there are now 16), Husby recognised the importance of developing a good business case for shore power realising that it should not be dependent only on public funding. Public funding has been essential when building the facilities, but we need to develop this as a self-supporting solution for the longer run.
In the case of the cruiseships, the total investment exceeds NKr100 million (€9.9 million) with some funding coming from government-funded Enova and Plug itself financing the two connection points in Jekteviken. All the power comes from a local hydropower plant which also supplies the city itself.
Plug operates all the shore power in Bergen. Cruiselines will pay a fee per kWh and one for connection. When it comes to pricing and cruiseline willingness to pay, Bos has had no negative feedback so far: “We will just have to see when it comes into operation, but we definitely believe we have a competitive price.”
When it comes to connection, Husby comments: “I don’t think there are any ships equipped with shore power interface that will not be able to plug in. That is why we have built five not three, so that we have the flexibility to connect with as many ships that can connect as possible.”
Bergen’s success in this field has enabled Plug Holding to take its business model to other ports in Norway. Plug Holding is now building shore power for cruise ships in Alesund [three connection points] and Nordfjordeid [one connection point]. Bos says: “Our ambition is to expand this further. We are very interested also in exporting this business model to ports abroad, for example to other European ports.” But she recognises that the pandemic has delayed the decision process for many.
Looking further into the future of power sources, the Port of Bergen has joined forces with an European consortium, which has applied for funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020. The goal, explains Husby, is to develop the port as a multimodal hub for sustainable and smart mobility.
“Plug is playing an important role in this, alongside a partnership of 24 organisations includingBKK, Kongsberg Maritime, ABB, Air Liquide and Samskip, to mention a few. Port of London, Forth Ports UK, Mantova in Italy and Reykjavik in Iceland are other ports joining the application. We will know in June”.
In addition, Bos says that Plug-owner BKK is working with Air Liquide and Equinor to produce hydrogen north of Bergen. “We are looking at the whole value chain. It is early days. It will be high investment if they can make it.”
With Norwegian regulations already hitting the cruise business in the heritage fjords and potentially extending to the whole of the Norwegian coast, alternative fuels are high on the agenda.
Husby says: “The balance between the needs of the calling ships and the pressure on the environment and local society, is a balancing act. We are happy to move forward with solutions that suits both perspectives. If we in addition establish economically sustainable business models, we have reached our goal. We see shore power has moved from being a cost issue and technical challenge towards being a business opportunity.”
Bos adds: “I think the decision to agree a joint venture with BKK was at the forefront and we are very proud to be part of the success story. It shows what you can do if two groups with different competencies but the same goal join forces.”
For now they are just ready and waiting for the first call.