Shore power facility launch for MPA

Tom Hutchison and Maria Bos

MONTROSE Port Authority (MPA) has become the first port in Scotland to provide a groundbreaking shore power service for offshore energy supply vessels which will greatly reduce harmful emissions, noise pollution and fuel consumption. The innovation takes MPA closer to reaching its ambition of becoming Scotland’s first carbon neutral port.

Plug Montrose, is the result of a pioneering £1 million investment and collaboration between Montrose Port Authority and Plug Shore Power Ltd, the UK-based branch of leading Norwegian shore power and maritime charging company, Plug AS. 

This 50/50 self-funded joint venture highlights MPA’s proactive commitment to reducing carbon emissions and promoting cleaner energy practices within the maritime industry. It also marks Plug’s first venture in the UK following successful collaborations with several Norwegian ports to develop shore power infrastructure, starting with its initial project in Bergen in 2018. Since 2019, Plug’s shore power installations in Bergen have collectively saved over 52,000 tons of CO2. 

Shore power provides vessels with the option to shut down their engines and connect to the grid while berthed in port. This eliminates the need for ships to run their engines to power onboard systems, thereby reducing emissions, fuel consumption and noise pollution during port stays. 

According to the Department of Transport’s 2022 call for evidence on shore power, approximately 70-90% of port emissions are generated by vessels, with emissions from vessels at berth being notably higher (72%) than those from manoeuvring vessels (16%). 

Montrose Port Authority’s decision to invest in shore power stems from its commitment to reducing scope 3 emissions to meet its aim of becoming Scotland’s first carbon-neutral port as well as the demand for the service from regularly visiting vessels accustomed to such facilities in ports outside the UK, most notably in Norway.

The shore power facility is now operational on berths 1 and 2 at Montrose Port, following a significant upgrade to the port’s substation and quayside infrastructure carried out by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN). Most notably, the inaugural connection to the facility during the testing phase was made by the Norwegian vessel, Magne Viking, from Viking Supply Ships. This vessel holds special significance as it is a frequent visitor to Montrose Port and even made a feature in Christopher Nolan’s 2020 film, Tenet. A seven-foot-long scale model of the Magne Viking made entirely of LEGO bricks and built by Montrose Port employee, Jim McDonough, sits in MPA’s office entranceway as a unique tribute to the vessel.

Captain Tom Hutchison, Chief Executive of Montrose Port Authority, expressed his pride for achieving this port milestone, stating: “The launch of shore power at berths 1 and 2 represents a transformative moment for us at Montrose Port Authority and the wider Scottish maritime industry. 

“By embracing innovative solutions like shore power, we are not only reducing our environmental footprint but also positioning Montrose Port as a leader in sustainable port operations. 

“With the service now live and our ability to track emission reduction through Plug’s bespoke administration system, we are excited about the potential of expanding this facility to all berths at our Port.”

Chief Executive Officer of Plug, Maria Bos, commented: “This milestone represents not only a significant achievement in sustainable maritime practices but also a testament to the power of collaboration. Witnessing the construction of the facility and the first vessels connecting to it is a moment of pride for us all.

“We eagerly anticipate the positive impact this facility will have on the environment and for the town of Montrose. We are excited to track the usage and witness the tangible benefits it brings, reaffirming our commitment to sustainability and innovation in the maritime sector. 

“We are looking forward to continuing to support Montrose Port in reaching its ambition of becoming Scotland’s first carbon neutral port, as well as expanding our business to other ports in the UK.”

When asked to comment on the venture, Mark Wilson, HSE & Operations Director at  Offshore Energies UK (OEUK), the leading representative body for the UK’s offshore energy industry, said: “Supply chain led innovation lies at the core of a successful homegrown energy transition, and this is a great example of companies collaborating to accelerate the drive towards reducing carbon emissions to support the delivery of net zero ambitions.”

Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Net Zero and Energy, Màiri McAllan, was also asked to comment and said: “Scotland is establishing itself as a leader in renewable energy and is now globally recognised as an attractive place to invest. This is underlined by Plug’s decision to make its first partnership with a UK port at Montrose Harbour.

“The Scottish maritime industry is an increasingly busy and vibrant sector and is vital to economic prosperity. The repurposing of our ports alongside their more traditional activity is crucial for Scotland’s economy and our nation’s successful transition to renewables including offshore wind.

“Work to install shore power will further support Scotland’s journey to net zero and benefit people in Montrose by reducing harmful sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.”

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