“They should introduce onshore power supply immediately, that would solve the whole problem”

Can reduce NOx emissions by 97 percent.


“A cruise ship uses as much power as a medium-sized Norwegian municipality,” says Johnny Breivik, Director of the Port of Bergen.

He raises his voice as he walks along the 294-metre cruise ship moored at Dokken in Bergen. The noise is almost deafening.

While the passengers open their wallet at the city main square, Fisketorget, or snap photos from Mount Fløyen, the moored cruise ship covers its energy needs by running a diesel generator.

Director of the Port of Bergen, Johnny Breivik, is disappointed that their application for support to invest in onshore power supply for cruise ships was turned down. Emissions and noise from cruise traffic are a major problem during the tourist season. Photo: Didrik Skodje

A flying rage

With a capacity for over 3,000 passengers and with a crew of around 1,000, the onboard energy consumption is enormous. Such a cruise ship uses around 3,000 litres of fuel – per hour.

The people of Bergen suffer from this. On windless days, the emissions cover the city like a blanket.

Helge Misje Johannesen drives past the harbour every day to work. On a sunny and calm day this summer, he took a picture of the highly visible smog and sent it to the local newspaper, Bergens Tidende.

“I was in a flying rage when I saw it,” says Johannesen.

Recently, the debate about emissions have also raged in the local media.

“I’ve seen this so many times before! They say we have to be patient, but we are breathing this every day,” he continues.

Video (in Norwegian): This is what people on the streets of Bergen have to say about onshore power supply:

Solution: onshore power

Throughout the summer, hundreds of vessels dock at Norwegian tourist attractions. Bergen alone received about 330 cruise ships during 2018.

“They should introduce onshore power supply right away, that would solve the whole problem,” Johannesen says fervently.

The figures are clear. If the docked cruise ships were to be plugged into an onshore power supply, air pollution would be significantly reduced. NOx emissions alone would be cut by 97 percent and CO2 emissions would be significantly reduced.

In need of help

The director continues to raise his voice, while highlighting all the activity at the wharf in Bergen. He would like to get rid of noise as well as air pollution.

“It’s important for us to get electricity through the power grid, instead of the ships using an engine while docked and releasing greenhouse gases,” he says.

This ship is 293.8 metres long and has a capacity for 3,605 passengers and a crew of 1,027. In Bergen, the stream of tourists and the plume of greenhouse gasses from the cruise ships are very evident.

Establishing an onshore power facility is costly. In Bergen alone, the price tag is over NOK 100 million. But the investments will also pay off economically, according to a report from 2016 compiled by Siemens, Bellona, Nelfo and Electroforeningen.

“Given the infrastructure in the ports and the way the investment systems work here, it’s the shipping sector that has to pay up. We do not have such a high revenue here in the Port of Bergen that we can manage this alone,” Breivik continues.

In the national Budget Agreement for 2018, the Venstre party of the Norwegian Parliament had this sentence adopted:

“The Parliament calls on the government to ensure that Enova’s mandate includes the development of onshore power supply for cruise ships in the municipal or private sectors.”

Nevertheless, the Port of Bergen recently had their application to Enova for financial assistance with establishing an onshore power supply for cruise ships rejected.

“We had, after all, expected some support. Especially in light of the parliamentary guidelines,” says the Director of the Port of Bergen.

Hamburg has the first onshore power system in Europe for cruise ships and their experiences are good.

“The technology is there, all we need to do is put it into use,” says Eivind Nilsen, Director of Energy Solutions in Siemens.

Eivind Nilsen, Director of Energy Solutions at Siemens, believes that financial support from Enova would have been the optimal solution for establishing onshore power supply for cruise ships. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

The chicken or the egg

The Port of Bergen already has three onshore power supply units for offshore industry vessels, and one for the ferry route Hurtigruten. Support from Enova has been important for the development of these systems.

“The solutions are clear. One of the arguments used against granting support for the development of onshore power supply for cruise ships is that few such vessels are built to connect to such systems. But someone must dare to take the first step,” says Nilsen.

Cruise ships and onshore power

  • Onshore power supply means electricity supplied to docked vessels from land-based supply facilities.
  • NOx emissions from a large cruise ship moored for eight hours equals the annual emissions of approximately 700 cars.
  • CO2 emissions from cruise ships account for three percent of Norway’s annual emissions from domestic transport
  • Onshore power supply requires new installations both on land and onboard the ships
  • There are currently no shore power facilities for cruise ships in Norway

“Naturally, the optimal solution would be for Enova to contribute to the investment, but there are other possibilities. This requires that you are willing to think in terms of new ways of procurement and business models,” Nilsen adds.

Currently, the argument is like the never-ending discussion about what comes first, the chicken or the egg, the director says.

“As long as there is no onshore power system to connect to, the cruise ships will not make the necessary adaptation,” he says

He fully understands the frustration of the citizens of Bergen. But although the Port of Bergen has been denied support, he does not plan to stop praising onshore power solutions just yet.

“The people of Bergen express a positive commitment, and this is a clear signal that this level of emissions cannot continue. We will not give up!”