Legal analysis

The following section discusses policies of relevance for the use of OPS in the European Union and the United States.

No international requirements for OPS
There are presently no international requirements that would mandate or facilitate the use of OPS. However, National States are free to set standards for berthing vessels. Thus, the CARB has set regulations for ships docking at Californian ports. The use of shoreside power is one of the solutions and ships equipped to receive such power will be able use it.

A comparable case is the exclusion of single-hull tankers by EU and US governments during the nineties, before the IMO agreement.

EU Policy

EU recommendation
The European Commission has been studying the effects of use of onshore power. Based on this work, the European Commission has issued a recommendation stating that:

“Member States should consider the installation of shore-side electricity for use by ships at berth in ports; particularly in ports where air quality limit values are exceeded or where public concern is expressed about high levels of noise nuisance, and especially in berths situated near residential areas”

Furthermore, the EU has called for the development of harmonized international standards for shore-side electrical connections, taking into account ongoing work by the IEC /ISO working group.

The European Commission also invites Member States to consider offering economic incentives to operators to use shore-side electricity provided to ships, taking advantage of the possibilities set out in Community legislation.

Energy tax reduction
In 2007 the Commission presented a Communication on an Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union. In this paper the Commission announced that it would develop proposals to reduce the levels of air pollution from ships in ports, by removing the tax disadvantages for shoreside power. As part of the revision of the Energy Tax Directive (2003/96), exemption from energy taxes for onshore power is now under discussion. At present, countries have different energy taxes.

0.1 % S fuel at berth mandatory
Under EU Directive 2005:33 the use of 0.1 % sulphur by weight for marine fuels used by ships at berth in Community ports became mandatory as of 1 January, 2010. The Directive allows OPS as an alternative.

U.S. policy

Fuel quality requirements
In the coming years, fuel quality guidelines are set to become stricter. With the introduction of a maximum of 0.1 % S for fuel used at berth in the European Union and California, running auxiliary engines at berth will become more expensive, as use of HFO will no longer be possible.

Within the 24 nautical mile regulatory zone off the California coastline, fuel requirements are in force for ocean-going vessels with respect to their main (propulsion) diesel engines, auxiliary diesel engines and auxiliary boilers when operating.

Fuel requirementEffective dateFuel
Phase IJuly 1, 2009Marine gas oil at or below 1.5 % S or Marine Diesel oil at or below 0.5 % S
Phase IIJanuary 1, 2012Marine gas oil or Marine Diesel oil at or below 0.1 % S

Regulation of auxiliary engines of vessels at berth
There are presently no international requirements that would mandate or facilitate the use of OPS. In December 2007 the CARB approved a regulation to reduce emissions from diesel auxiliary engines on container ships, passenger ships, and refrigerated-cargo ships while berthed at a Californian port. The regulation provides vessel fleet operators visiting these ports two options to reduce at-berth emissions from auxiliary engines:

1) Turn off auxiliary engines for most of a vessel’s stay in port and connect the vessel to some other source of power, most likely grid-based shore power; or

2) Use alternative control techniques that achieve equivalent emission reductions. Examples include:

  • Non-grid-based shore power (distributed generation equipment such as natural gas-fuelled engines).
  • Emission controls installed on the ships (e.g. particulate control traps, selective catalytic reduction units and alternative fuels).
  • Emission controls installed at the wharf (e.g. a bonnet emissions capture and treatment system see Baghouse System ).

The regulation applies to operators of container ship and refrigerated-cargo ship fleets whose ships cumulatively make 25 or more visits annually to one of the specified ports. It also applies to operators of passenger ship fleets whose ships cumulatively make five or more visits annually to one of these ports. Fleets whose ships cumulatively make less than the specified minimum annual visits to a port are not affected by the regulation.

For more information on the CARB regulations on Commercial Marine Vessels, click here.

CARB subsidy programme
The CARB runs a subsidy programme that supports investments for passenger ships and cargo ships. Click here for more information on the CARB policy.