Cutting cruise ships’ emissions in ports – Hamburg shows how

in Decarbonization, Trends by

The alarming levels of air pollution in big cities like Delhi or Beijing and “dirty diesels” – emissions of nitrogen oxides from automotive diesel engines – have made many headlines in recent months. But in port cities like Kiel, Hamburg or Rostock there is an additional air pollutant: particulate emissions from ship’s diesels. In the booming segment of cruise shipping – a 10% increase in arrivals in Hamburg alone this year – the focus is increasingly on how emissions from cruise ships’ auxiliary diesel engines can be reduced. During a 10-hour stay in port, the diesel engines of a single cruise ship may well burn 20 metric tons of fuel and produce 60 metric tons of CO2 – about as much as the total annual emissions of 25 average-sized European cars! This problem can be tackled in at least two ways: by supplying cruise ships with shore-side power so the auxiliary engines can be switched off, or powering the vessels with low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Hamburg Port

Around 30% of the 197 cruise ships Hamburg is expecting in 2017 are now being supplied with shore-to-ship power or LNG. The cruise liner AIDAPRIMA ( ), which calls in at Hamburg once a week, has been primarily responsible for the port’s eco-friendlier LNG statistics. However, it has to be added that the LNG fuel has to be transported to Hamburg by tanker truck from Rotterdam. In December 2018, Hamburg is looking forward to greeting the AIDANOVA as the first cruise liner with LNG as its main propulsion fuel. According to Jens Meier, who heads Hamburg Port Authority, three Aida vessels visiting Hamburg in the 2018 season will be using LNG or shore-side power. Hamburg’s shore-to-ship facility has been in operation since April this year and hitherto used nine times by the AIDASOL. Unfortunately, Germany’s electricity taxes mean shore-side power is still more expensive than tax-free ship’s diesel but, as Jens Meier points out, Hamburg wants to encourage more cruise liners to switch to shore-side power by offering discounts on port fees. Hamburgers living in residential areas close to the river will be glad to hear that.