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Canada's busiest cruise port of call decides against shore power

Canada's busiest cruise port of call decides against shore power
British Columbia's Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) has decided not to pursue shore power and identified scrubber technology as the preferred option for cruise ships at Ogden Point.

Victoria is Canada's busiest cruise port of call. In 2014, a total of 210 calls with more than 454,000 passengers are expected at the Ogden Point terminal.

Given recent advancements and investments in new on-board technology and the implementation of regulations to improve air quality, installing shore power is not an effective solution for Ogden Point, GVHA said.

'Environmental protection is a priority for GVHA and we are committed to working with the cruise industry and federal regulators to mitigate air quality impacts,' said president and ceo Curtis Grad. 'The best solution to meet regulatory requirements and protect local air quality, both in port and at berth, is on-board scrubber technology. Shore power is a very cost-prohibitive investment with limited benefits for ports of call like Victoria.'

Air quality monitoring in James Bay demonstrated that elevated levels of sulphur dioxide, although infrequent, generally occur when ships are maneuvering in and out of port under their own engine power. As such, shore power only has a positive impact when ships are berthed, GVHA said.

With the North American Emissions Control Area mandating the use of low-sulphur fuel or operators granted waivers to meet emissions targets through the use of technology like scrubbers, GVHA said this will ensure the continuity of good air quality while ships are within the vicinity of Victoria Harbour, not just at berth.

Other factors that affect the viability of shore power include shorter length of stay in Victoria as a port of call versus a homeport, the time required to plug the ships in at berth and the potential for reduced flexibility of the facility to accommodate next-generation vessels in the future.

At an estimated cost of more than $9.5m, one side of Ogden Point could be outfitted, servicing fewer than one-third of total cruise calls. GVHA sees the benefits as limited relative to cost and effectiveness.

'Industry commitments to cleaner fuel and on-board scrubber technology have eclipsed shore power as a viable air quality strategy for Victoria,' Grad continued. 'Given that the vast majority of cruise ships operating in the Pacific Northwest will be equipped with on-board scrubbers by the end of 2015, it is not prudent to invest scarce financial resources at Ogden Point for marginal benefit.'

Over the past year, the main cruise lines calling at Victoria have committed to install scrubbers on many of their ships. Carnival Corp. & plc, the parent of Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines, has announced it is installing scrubbers on scores of its vessels from those three brands. Royal Caribbean International has six working ships in line for scrubber installations. Norwegian Cruise Line also has committed to scrubber technology.

Vancouver, a homeport, provides shore power for cruise ships, as do Seattle and San Francisco, other homeports for Alaska cruises, along with Juneau, a port of call. On Canada's east coast, the Port of Halifax is in the process of preparing a shore power installation to be ready for its first cruise hookup in early October.