December 8, 2022
  • December 8, 2022

Ship-to-Shore Power System Helps Accelerate Decarbonization Efforts

By on October 5, 2022 0

Posted on October 5, 2022 at 4:01 p.m. by

The Maritime Executive

[By: Novatech Automation]

The innovative design of the electrical substations is at the heart of the cold ironing system that allows cruise ships to stop and plug into shore power and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the ports

In 2018, the United Nations International Maritime Organization set a target to halve maritime greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. One approach to decarbonization is cold ironing, where a ship stops all power generation onboard diesel engines and connects to shore power provided by the local utility. With this approach, can industry reduce CO emissions? and other polluting emissions up to 98% almost overnight. As a result, custom shore power systems are increasingly appearing in North American ports.

However, converting an ocean-going vessel to shore power requires proprietary equipment and the ability to adapt to various vessel conditions. The vessels operate on 6.6 or 11 KV and have power requirements ranging from 4 to 16 megawatts with unique load profiles specific to each vessel. Therefore, the substation in this environment must be able to protect both the ship and the utility supplying the electricity.

It is therefore not surprising that the SCADA systems used in electric utility substations can also monitor and control power in onshore cold ironing systems. As with traditional substations, protective relays and redundant safety systems ensure reliable and safe power transmission while monitoring and control equipment provides real-time management and remote access with detailed reports. For ship-to-shore systems, only minor customizations are required to provide a full range of power quality and usage reporting for ship and operator billing requirements.

Ensure shore power is “ship shaped”
The adaptation of substations to facilitate “cold ironing” or connecting an ocean-going vessel to shore power while in port originated the cruise industry . In 2005, Princess Cruises was looking for a partner to build a shore power system at the Port of Seattle. The company contacted a large electrical contractor with extensive experience in high voltage commercial projects. The design, engineering, fabrication, installation and commissioning of the first project was completed in less than six months.

The development of the custom solution eventually led to the formation of a shore power contractor division which has now become a stand-alone shore power contractor for ports. Today, Watts Marine supports ten installations at seven ports in Canada and the United States

The patented Custom Shore Power System consists of proprietary equipment designed specifically for the cruise ship industry. It includes dual voltage electrical service equipment, custom developed electrical cable handling equipment, and custom electronic monitoring and control equipment.

Once a cruise ship or shipping vessel is outfitted to receive shore power docks in the port, an operator selects the vessel to connect from a database built into the custom automation system that determines the appropriate operating parameters.

The Watts Marine shore power system does the rest. In this process, five flexible power and control cables are lifted by a specially designed cable positioning device and connected to the vessel’s electrical system via marine standard plugs and sockets. A shore operator then closes the circuit breaker and power is supplied to the vessel.

Protective relays and redundant safety systems are used to protect both ship and shore electrical systems; all ship systems are then converted to shore power. The operator constantly communicates with the vessel to ensure a safe transition. Everything is monitored locally and all systems are also monitored remotely from the main office.

Monitoring and control
“We were looking for a partner who would understand our needs and provide us with the monitoring side,” said Mike Watts, principal of Watts Marine, based in Kingston, WA, located in greater Seattle and designers of the shore-to-ship power solution. . “In our system footprint there is a lot of high voltage equipment that you would find in a traditional substation, and so the monitoring and protection side is very similar to what utilities install.”

Since ships have varying loads, the substation must adjust and change its monitoring points to meet each ship’s power requirements. Custom solutions are required to address key variables such as voltage, loads, and secondary voltage.

“With cruise ships, we connect to different power requirements that can range from four to twelve megawatts,” Watts said. “In addition, the vessels operate on voltage classes of 6.6 KV or 11 KV. We needed a solution that would work with different load profiles.

After first meeting at a trade show in 2008, the company selected NovaTech Automation, a Pennsylvania-based supplier of industry-leading Orion automation systems, to provide the monitoring and of remote reporting required for their shore-to-ship power solution.

“At the time, we only had two systems installed, but it was always important for us to monitor everything remotely at each site,” says Watts, adding that in the home office, it is possible to see the status of all their systems in a single line item.

The Orion automation system collects data from Bitronics panel meters which provide electrical measurements such as voltage, amperage and currents, fault and event records, and trend logs.

An operator uses custom HMI frameworks that are powered by custom Orion web pages for local and remote viewing. Alarms are triggered automatically when elements go out of range and operate like a traditional SCADA system.

The Orion also provides detailed reports on key shore power connection metrics, including (KWH) of energy consumed and connection start and stop times.

With the ability to remotely condition, manage and monitor the use of shore power to meet a vessel’s electrical needs while in port by adapting traditional substation automation solutions , it is also possible to use this technology with other ocean vessels in the future. . This will certainly have significant environmental benefits by reducing harmful emissions in residential, commercial and industrial areas near busy ports.

For more information on substation automation solutions across all industries, visit the NovaTech Automation website at or call (844) 668-2832.

The products and services described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.