As part of its journey towards net-zero emissions by 2050, MSC Cruises, the cruise division of Swiss MSC Group, will have shore power connections in two Northern European ports this summer.

MSC Virtuosa arrives into Southampton. Courtesy of MSC Cruises, Blue Harbour.

Having made the pledge in 2021 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, MSC Cruises is continuously exploring and investing in new technologies that are helping to decarbonize, some with very promising results.

On this journey, minimising the impact of cruises ships on port communities and their environment while berthed is key. Shore power plays a role to this end — it enables ships to turn off their engines and connect to local electric power to run their onboard systems.

With electricity travelling to the ship through a specially designed transformer at the dock, this process prevents emissions produced from diesel generators, improving local air quality as well as reducing noise and vibration levels. The environment and the surrounding communities thus directly benefit from shore power technology.

Following significant investments in its fleet capabilities, MSC Cruises announced on 21 April 2022 concrete steps and commitments to adopt and accelerate the use of shore power.

Shore power in Southampton and Warnemünde

From the end of May throughout the 2022 summer season, two ships of MSC Cruises’ fleet will be consistently using shore power for the first time — MSC Virtuosa in the United Kingdom at the Port of Southampton’s new Horizon Cruise Terminal, and MSC Poesia in Rostock-Warnemünde, Germany.

According to MSC Cruises, close collaboration with local authorities based on shared interest has made the supply and use of shore power possible. From a practical side, MSC Cruises said it is grateful for the support provided by the port authorities to finish commissioning the equipment before being able to start using it systematically in a few weeks.

“We look forward to using shore power in Southampton and Warnemünde throughout the summer season and we congratulate the port authorities for their forward-thinking and innovative commitment,” Linden Coppell, Director of Sustainability at MSC Cruises, said.

“We need more ports in other key markets in Europe to introduce shore power as quickly as possible thus joining our efforts towards net-zero emissions by 2050 and greatly reducing our local air emissions.”

Agreement with Cruise Baltic

On 5 April 2022, Cruise Baltic and MSC Cruises entered a memorandum of understanding concerning their joint efforts to contribute to the use of shore power supply in the Baltic Sea Region.

The MoU highlights a mutual desire to contribute to improving the cruise industry’s environmental impact. Cruise Baltic includes 32 ports and destinations in the Baltic Sea Region. By signing the agreement, Cruise Baltic commits to work for shore power supply facilities in the region with the aim of increasing the number of facilities in the Baltic Sea.

To uphold its end, MSC Cruises commits to ensure that cruise ships regularly calling to the respective ports in the Baltic Sea Region use the shore power supply if available, as soon as possible, and no later than from 1 January 2024.

Further investments in shore power capability

By the end of 2022, 11 of MSC Cruises’ 21 ships – including all the new ships built since 2017 – will be fitted with shore power capability.

Existing ships are currently being or will be retrofitted in the future as their itineraries take them to ports where shore power will be available.

With anticipated regulatory demands and local community concerns about air quality, various ports around the world are developing infrastructure to support shore power for cruise ships. However, according to CLIA, there are currently not more than 14 ports visited by their members fitted with shore side electricity capacity, while only 7% of cruise berths will be equipped by 2025.

“We are committed to supporting authorities in developing shoreside power for our ships while in port. We have a clear and unequivocal position, that wherever shore power is available we will prioritise ships that have that capability,” Coppell added.

“To ensure compatibility with the visiting ships’ systems, we are collaborating closely with port authorities and engineering companies in charge of the infrastructure design. Aspects, such as onboard energy demands and ship technical systems, need to be considered as part of shore side planning.”

Other environmental technologies deployed across MSC Cruises’ fleet

Determined to achieve net-zero emissions cruise operations by 2050, the cruise division of MSC Group is investing in and supporting the accelerated development and implementation of innovative technologies to be deployed across its fleet.

As informed, fourteen of MSC Cruises’ vessels have been fitted with hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems, ensuring a sulphur oxides reduction of 98 per cent. By the end of 2022, the five newest ships will have selective catalytic reduction systems, which convert nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen and water.

MSC World Europa and MSC Euribia, which are currently under construction and scheduled for delivery in 2022 and 2023, respectively, will be MSC Cruises’ first LNG fueled vessels.

MSC World Europa will also be the first cruise ship deploying solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. This type of fuel cell is designed to generate electricity 20 to 30 percent more efficiently through a non-combustion electrochemical process when utilizing LNG compared to traditional marine combustion-based propulsion and auxiliary engines.

In addition, the cruise division of MSC Group has initiated various partnerships with shipyards, energy providers, infrastructure companies, technology developers and academic institutions. These will allow further study on fuel cells, hydrogen-powered vessels and other emerging technologies that offer the potential to enable net-zero emissions ships.

The company’s ambition is to increasingly study and test these potential solutions through new-build and retrofitting programmes, to accelerate their development, help them reach maturity, and deploy them across our fleet.

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