Why cruise ships avoid UK's Port Southampton plug-in power

   November 10, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

Cruise vessels are opting to consume fuel while docked/berthed in port instead of utilizing plug-in shore power facilities in certain cities, as reported.

Over two years, ships in Southampton UK made use of the National Grid through plug-in facilities only 71 times, according to findings from the Open Democracy website.

ABP Ports (the port management company) attributed this trend to the relatively high electricity costs in the UK. CCL-Carnival Cruise Line indicated that it employs shore power "wherever available and operationally possible."

Southampton, in 2021, became the first UK port to facilitate shore power for cruise ships. Although 500+ cruise ships typically visit the port annually, and newer vessels are equipped with plug-in capability, only one ship can utilize the technology at a time due to power limitations. Alastair Welch, the port director, highlighted the substantial power requirement for multiple ships to simultaneously use shore power, necessitating a significant increase in the port's power capacity.

In contrast, Portsmouth Port is set to benefit from a GBP 18.5 million government grant, enabling 3 ships to be powered simultaneously from 2025. Open Democracy noted that certain cruise operators choose not to use shore power while berthed, opting for the cheaper alternative of burning oil or liquefied natural gas. ABP acknowledged the potential barrier posed by the high power costs in the UK, passing on the direct cost to cruise lines.

A report in June highlighted Southampton's elevated levels of cruise ship air pollution in Europe, as per the campaign group Transport & Environment. Nevertheless, a prior study commissioned by Southampton City Council suggested that ships contribute relatively minimally to nitrogen oxide levels in the city.