New ‘shore power’ facilities at Killybegs Harbour to help cut emissions

A new system to allow trawlers to use “shore power” when in Killybegs Harbour – thereby cutting out harmful emissions from diesel generators – has been welcomed by Minister for the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

Providing electricity to trawlers and ships while they are in port avoids the need for the boats to keep their engines running to provide light, heat, cooking facilities and operate the range of modern facilities and technical equipment needed onboard.

Shore power allows the masters of vessels to switch off their large diesel engines which are used at sea to generate electricity for the vessel. The process mirrors “cold ironing” a term which dates from the days when coal was used to fire ships engines. When coal-fired ships were in harbour their iron engines cooled down, eventually going cold – hence, “cold iron”.

In modern times ships, notably the larger scale vessels such as cruise ships, need to keep electricity available in port to power everything from restaurants to swimming pools. As a result such ships continue to burn diesel to generate power, with much criticism from environmentalists. During the planning hearing for cruise ships in Dun Laoghaire expert testimony was given that such ship-board power stations would need EPA licences if they were based on land.

Under the Dublin Port Master Plan provision has been made to allow cruise ships to “plug in” to shore power, to bypass the need to keep engines and or diesel generators running and pumping exhaust fumes into the city. However a spokesman for the port has previously questioned the number of large-scale, cruise ships which have facilities to accept shore power.

The Killybegs project is aimed at reducing emissions by allowing diesel engines on trawlers, that would normally be running to heat and provide power, to be replaced by clean mains power while in port.

Killybegs Harbour is Ireland’s premier fishing port and it is estimated that the project will result is a reduction of 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – equivalent to taking almost 500 cars off the road and improvements in the local environment through reduced noise and air pollution.”

The project is co-funded with the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme for 2014-2020

Welcoming the project, Mr McConalogue said “the reality of the impacts of climate change, and particularly for our seas and oceans, is becoming ever more visible. With that comes the need to drive the development of climate actions that deliver a sustainable, competitive and innovative seafood sector.

“This prototype project delivering cleaner power supply to fishing vessels in port is one such action.” The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine commissioned the “Cold Ironing Project” in July 2020 at a cost of €1.7 million.

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