Shore power: a step towards a more sustainable future for the cruise industry

April 13, 2023

Like many others, the cruise industry is working hard to try and reduce its impact on the environment to the maximum extent possible. Whether that’s through finding new ways to reduce the carbon footprint of its fleet, or to protect the ecosystems of its host communities, cruise lines and other industry stakeholders are continually investing in the latest environmental technology. Shoreside electricity is one of these innovative developments, and its benefits on the local communities, the ship’s passengers and the industry as a whole are already visible. And that’s without even mentioning the planet! Here is how the Saint Lawrence region of Canada is utilizing shoreside electricity to create sustainable cruise experiences for all.

What is shore power?

 As cruise ships dock, they don’t get to just turn everything off. There are many essential operations that need to keep running. From heating to cooling or even simply keeping the lights on, electricity is usually supplied by the ship’s fuel-powered engines. 

When docked, ships can connect to a port's electrical grid through shore power installations, which provide electricity supplied by renewable energy sources. This allows the ship’s crew to stop the fuel engines while docked. As the engines are not running, less fuel is burned.

 What are the benefits of shoreside electricity?

The entire cruise industry’s ecosystem benefits from shoreside electricity, including local communities, passengers, cruise operators and, of course, the planet. A lower fuel consumption obviously means a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It also means less air pollution, which leads to a better quality of air for host communities. Turning off the fuel engines also reduces noise pollution, providing passengers with a smoother cruise experience without compromising on comfort. Cruise operators can also rest assured that the cruise experiences they recommend for their clients are contributing to solving the industry’s environmental challenge. What about the benefits for cruise lines? Easy! A reduction in operation costs generated by fuel and maintenance savings.

Shore power in the Saint Lawrence region

While it’s true that shore power installations are only available in 29 ports worldwide, it’s worth noting that one of these is the Port of Montréal, located along the Saint Lawrence River. The project to outfit the Port of Montreal Alexandra Pier was completed in 2017 and is fully operational. The alternative marine power installations aim to reduce GHG emissions by 2 800 tonnes per year, which is equivalent to removing 700 trucks from the road! 

Québec City has also commissioned a feasibility study to look into supplying cruise ships with renewable energy, so watch this space. Other ports along the Saint Lawrence River are also in the process of evaluating the initiative, which would render this particular cruise circuit one of the greenest in the world.

 One of many steps towards a more sustainable future

The cruise industry has made great strides towards reducing its environmental impact. Shore power is only one of the many initiatives currently being implemented to reach the industry’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. These include (but are not limited to) switching to less polluting fuels, and investing in the development of newer, greener ships. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, but with shore electricity installations becoming more and more popular, it is fair to say the cruise industry is on the right track