Container ships keep their diesel engines running while lying in the harbor to ensure their energy supply. This has a significant impact on the environment. But a Hamburg based company has developed a solution that meets with worldwide interest.
The challenge: Economical and environmentally friendly energy for container ships
The four container ports in Hamburg are served by nearly 4,000 ships a year. All these ships have their own energy supply, which is maintained even during laytime by constantly running diesel engines. One consequence of this is that around one third of all nitrogen oxides measured in the city of Hamburg are produced in the port alone.
However, a ship with an energy requirement of around 1.5 MW/h can not simply be connected to the public electricity grid. This not only requires investments in the tens of millions. The resulting taxes and levies also lead to a price that is many times higher than the energy generated by the ship itself.
An external energy supply would therefore need to ensure that container ships, at least in port, can switch off their diesel generators. This solution would not only have to be much more environmentally friendly than burning dirty marine diesel. It would also have to be economically viable and provide the necessary security of supply.
The solution: Holistic approach to reducing emissions
HPE Hybrid Port Energy is a subsidiary of Becker Marine Systems and was founded to provide solutions for green energy generation in ports. One project of the company is called LNG PowerPac. It describes two standard 40-foot containers that contain a 1.5 MW/h generator, the necessary control technology and a tank for 8 tonnes of liquid natural gas at a minimum of space.
Such an LNG PowerPac is loaded onto the ship with the container crane in order to be connected to its power grid. Compared to the ship’s diesel engines, it produces clean energy with significantly reduced emissions. CO2 emissions are 20% lower. For NOx it is 80%. Emissions of sulfur and soot are even completely eliminated when burning LNG.
In the US, shore power supply is already mandatory during laytime. All container ships sailing to the US are therefore equipped with the required interface since 2012. On top of that, China also intends to end the self-supply of container ships during laytime as part of its Green Agenda.
The LNG PowerPac matches the already established interface standard. This solution requires no additional infrastructure, because the unit can be handled like any ordinary container and moved to the ship with the already existing equipment. For higher energy requirements, two units can be used in parallel. For longer periods, a second tank can easily be added.
A critical point is the economy of the solution. Energy production via on-board diesel generators costs a maximum of 3 cents per kW/h. However, the costs of supplying energy with the LNG PowerPack are significantly higher. The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) has therefore decided on a holistic solution and is actively supporting this pilot project: Container ships willing to switch their energy supply to LNG are currently getting a discount on the port charges, which will offset the higher costs involved.
The project LNG PowerPac is considered as a promising pilot project for more environmental protection in the port. This was also recognized by the Federal Ministry of Transport and the project was supported with a promotion of 4 million euros.
Potential: Key technology for less emissions in the port
First field trials with the LNG PowerPac have taken place since 2018 in cooperation with Hapag Lloyd. The container ships of the shipping company used in the transatlantic service already have the necessary infrastructure on board and thus offer optimal conditions for testing the environmentally sound energy supply in the port.
In addition to the HPA, other ports are also aware of the problem and are working to reduce container ship emissions during laytime. The US is the pioneer here and already in 2012 completely switched to shore power supply. As part of its Green Agenda, China is also heading in the same direction. Just as European ports see an urgent need for action.
The LNG PowerPac is an optimal solution. It not only uses established interfaces. It can also be used in any port in the world without the need for further technical preconditions. With this maritime solution, HPE Hybrid Port Energy is considered a leading innovator in the field of environmentally friendly port power supply. The company sees this as a globally viable market and is in close contact with port operators from Europe to China.