Cold Ironing is the technology that enables the vessel to shut down its auxiliary engines and get connected to the mainland’s high-voltage power grid. The vessel is connected to shore through the Cable Management System. The vessel’s crew rolls out the cable and the high-voltage plug-ins are inserted into the sockets that exist at berth. A power connection is established and the required power according to the vessel’s specifications is provided from shore to the vessel’s main switchboard. The system includes a power transformer that transforms high to low voltage and all the required switchgear to protect the vessel’s crew and equipment. The operation is controlled and monitored by the Shore Connection Main Control Panel. Power changeover supports shore-to-vessel synchronisation to avoid black out upon the connection. The system can also be integrated to a vessel’s AMS or/and PMS.


Published in July 2021 under the European Union’s Green Deal, the ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package contains proposals related to the promotion and deployment of shore power. Its Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) includes requirements for ports to have OPS infrastructure in place by 1 January 2030, to supply passenger and container ships of over 5,000 gross tonnage. The AFIR defines thresholds for the number of calls above which ports are required to implement the infrastructure. Meanwhile, the FuelEU Maritime regulation includes provisions to promote the use of OPS in ports by the same ship types, requiring them to be emissions-free at berth from 2030.


As of 2023, in selected Californian ports, 80% of a berthed vessel’s power must come from an AMPOPS. The rule, enforced by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), initially applied to container, reefer and cruise ships. However, CARB has updated the regulation to include car carriers and tankers, which are responsible for over 56% of all fine particulate matter emitted by docked vessels. Following the update, car carriers have until 2025 to achieve compliance, as do tankers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Tankers berthing in Northern California ports will need to comply by 2027. Elsewhere in North America, the Government of Canada launched the Shore Power Technology for Ports Program in 2012, giving Canadian ports access to up to 50% of the funding needed to implement marine shore power. The programme helped ports in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Quebec to install the technology.


According to a China Classification Society (CCS) technical notice issued in 2018, ships engaged on international voyages and equipped with shore power capability – except tankers and vessels using equivalent measures such as clean fuel or onboard batteries – should connect to an OPS while docked for over three hours at a port inside an ECA. If the vessel is berthed at an inland ECA port, the threshold is two hours. The CCS guidelines came into force on 1 July 2019 – and as of 1 January 2021, they also applied to cruise ships, which should connect to shore power when berthed for more than three hours at an ECA port with OPS capacity.



ERMA FIRST BLUE CONNECT is a shore power solution designed and offered by ERMA FIRST, enabling vessel’s to be connected to a port’s electrical grid to power onboard services, systems and equipment. This enables ships’ diesel generators to be switched off with a resultant reduction in noise and emissions, such as particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, carbon oxides and volatile organic compounds.




As the gateways to global trade, ports are critical economic and commercial hubs. However, they are also major sources of air, sea, noise and light pollution. The power demand of commercial vessels is covered by the diesel-fuelled auxiliary engines, and a recent study found that emissions from diesel engines are significantly more harmful to humans than those from petrol-fuelled vehicles. More than 30 human epidemiological studies have found that diesel exhaust exposure directly increases cancer risk.

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