October 26, 2014 3:08 pm
Updated: October 26, 2014 7:39 pm

Halifax port going green with cruise ship ‘plug-in’


HALIFAX – Cruise ships now have a green alternative when they dock at the Port of Halifax; there is a new shore power system that lets vessels plug in.

The shore power jib lets ships shut down their auxiliary engines and connect to the electrical grid while docked.

The Ruby Princess charges up while docked at the Port of Halifax.

Julia Wong/Global News

“The main thing about this is it not only provides for cleaner atmospheric conditions when the ship is alongside, but it allows those ships to burn fuel much more efficiently and conserve fuel when they’re in the Port of Halifax,” said George Malec, the vice-president of business development for the Port Authority.

This shore power project is the first of its kind on the East Coast. The Port Authority anticipates 25 vessels will use the plug-in during the next cruise season.

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“Not every vessel is configured for shore power but we’re very encouraged that a number of our most frequent callers here have made that decision to have shore power as an option,” Malec said.

The project will see cruise vessels pay Nova Scotia Power directly for the interruptible power.

Malec said the Port Authority will not see any financial benefits from the project.

“The port investigated in this primarily because of the environmental implications…the fact this strengthens our cruise industry and our port of call status here on the East Coast. This is not a money making venture for the port. It’s a very much a break-even proposition,” he said.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage calls the jib “very cool” and said it helps with the municipality’s green initiative.

“This is good for the environment and anytime you can have something that’s good for the economy and good for the environment at the same time, it’s obviously a win-win,” he said.

The Port Authority said one hour of charge for a cruise ship through the shore power unit is equivalent to powering a typical house for a year.

Mark Butler, policy director for the Ecology Action Centre, describes the venture as good news.

“We’re cutting down on air pollution from these vessels and these vessels are right in the center of town where lots of people live,” he said.

“They’re burning diesel so if we can cut down on that, that’s a good thing.”

Butler said cruise ships emit particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which are all health concerns.

He also adds that switching to electric power may be better in the big picture.

“That electricity might be generated by coal or perhaps by wind too. Depending on the source of electricity, they may be running on renewable energy, which is an added plus.”

However, Butler adds that there is still more the Port Authority could do to become even greener.

“We have container ships. We have bulk carriers coming into port. We have tankers. So another step could be making shore power available to more vessels at more berths across the harbour,” he said.

The $10 million project was funded by the federal and provincial government.

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