Taking shore side power to the next level

30 Mar 2014
The ShoreBoX™ solution uses a Static Grid Frequency Conversion system

The ShoreBoX™ solution uses a Static Grid Frequency Conversion system

Schneider Electric’s new ShoreBoX™ system aims to set a new benchmark in the industry because it’s portable and modular and suited to all types of vessel.

ShoreBoX™ is an all in one integrated solution that uses a Static Grid Frequency Conversion system and can be installed and used for cruisers (12 to 15 MVA), containerships (1 to 8 MVA), tankers (2 to 9 MVA) and smaller commercial vessels such as ferries.

At one of Schneider Electric’s main R&D facilities in Grenoble, the 3 MVA ShoreBoX™ prototype – which is approximately the size of a container in order to be transported easily by road – has been tested thoroughly with a medium voltage supply of 6,6KV which simulates a real life port context.

It’s also available in a smaller 33 tonnes/13.5m/2MVA unit and for larger power requirements it’s modular so it can be used in parallel with other units. Traditional shore side systems were designed in line with the power of the ship, which could result in energy being wasted.

But ShoreBoX™ can be sized to requirements, meaning customers only buy what power requirement they need now and add to it later if demand dictates.

Schneider Electric is also able to convert ships for shore power for between €200,000 and €500,000 when they’re in dry dock for maintenance. Newbuilds can have shore side power requirements factored in to the build cost for around €8,000.

So far, ShoreBoX™ has also been trialled in a real port environment in Morocco where two boxes have been installed for naval frigates. And there are two ShoreBoX™ systems bound for Riga in May which will be used to power containerships.

The need for shore side power

Shore side power is already recognised as an important way forward to save costs and emissions for the shipping industry. There is a worldwide standard for shore power Standard EC/ISO/IEEE 80005-1 High-voltage Shore Connection (HVSC).

Demand is there also. The Port of LA uses shore side power helped along by the introduction of the new OGV Fuel Regulation and Northern American Emission Control Area (ECA) requirements in January.

Shore side power is available in 97 berths worldwide and so far, Schneider Electric provides just under half with shore side power systems. The company also has a strong relationship with Viking Line in Helsinki, Finland.

But the retrofit side of the business is more of a work in progress. The company has already equipped one Stena Line ship in Gothenburg so there is a lot of scope left to develop that side of the business.

Michael Hawkings, section manager marine UK, Schneider Electric, said: “Everyone wants to be first to be second. Shore side power is going to be driven commercially. We believe that market forces will be the driving force.”

And market forces such as the EU Directive which gives a two hour limit at berth for ships before switching to shore side power or low sulphur fuel could help to drive this demand.

LNG vs shore side power?

Schneider Electric says that the use of LNG as an alternative marine fuel is complimentary with shore side power in both the short and long term.

At the moment LNG can only be used in newbuild ships and it’s more expensive to retrofit - the first is due in 2015.

Therefore shore side power may be a quicker and cheaper short term solution to allow shippers to achieve emissions targets – particularly those related to ECA’s.

Power is cheaper for today but as LNG bunkering terminals infrastructure comes into force costs will no doubt come down.

But there will probably always be a market for shore side power in residential port cities where space saving and safety constraints are paramount.

And Schneider Electric says there will also be a new market there for shore side power because LNG ships will still need to use power when at berth.

The current marketplace

There are plenty of issues to tackle before shore side power can be adopted on a much more global scale though.

Although it’s quite clear what ports need to do to have this shore side power, some older ships may not have been built with the facility to attach to a shore connection.

Frequency conversion is also a key consideration. The US uses a 60Hz grid, while the EU uses a 50Hz grid. Most ships are 60Hz so a conversion process needs to be put in place in European ports by way of a Static Grid Frequency Conversion system.

But the European Directive on the Deployment of Alternative Fuel Infrastructures, which will affect all ports in Europe, is expected to be validated in April 2014, which should help with this.

Unless regulation is in place, it’s the same old chicken and egg story – ports are waiting for shipping demands and ships are waiting for port infrastructure to be in place before adopting and using new technology.

Looking ahead, international standards are in place and the technology is there for the uptake so the industry looks positive. It is now just up to the ports and ships to decide who implements the shore connection first.

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