Port Electrification: Vancouver

International shipping exists in the Bermuda triangle of climate change initiatives: it's nowhere in the Kyoto protocol and similarly absent from municipal initiatives: I don't know of any municipality that has included ports in it's Climate Change action plans. Both airports and shipping ports have complicated relationships to the city's that harbour them and are governed by interlocking federal and provincial regulations. Both are also significant contributors to local air pollution and to an area's CO2 emissions. For shipping, it's not just the coming and going that causes problems; ships in most ports also have to keep their engines running even while docked to generate electricity for on board lights and systems.

With an election on the way, the Metro Vancouver environment and energy committee is hoping to get the federal money it needs to address the issue - at least in part. Marine emissions make up a bit over 5% of the Vancouver region's emissions (as well as being the main source for a variety of air pollutants including NOx, and SOx). Starting with cruise ships, the plan is to provide plug-ins for docked ships supplying them with power either from the BC Hydro grid or from on-site wind and tidal power projects potentially on the horizon. In 2002 Juno, Alaska was the first to set up a shore plug system, but interest has grown internationally and we will likely see more similar projects ahead. The question of course is whether grid-power is any cleaner. In coal burning regions, it won't be.


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