Shore Power Too Expensive for Hong Kong

Kai Tak

Published May 28, 2015 8:22 PM by Wendy Laursen

Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department has said that if shore power facilities were built at Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak cruise terminal they would be significantly underutilized. Therefore, plans for building the facilities will not go ahead.

The terminal, built on the tip of the former airport runway, can accommodate two Oasis class vessels at a time as well as three medium-sized vessels.

The department has stated that only five of 60 cruise terminals in the Asia Pacific are considering shore power, and that only 35 international cruise ships, about 16 percent, are expected to be equipped to use such facilities. Most of these vessels sailed in North America, not Asia.

The South China Morning Post reports that a study was undertaken by Hong Kong’s Electrical and Mechanical Services Department in 2013 to look at the feasibility of installing shore power at Kai Tak. It estimated that construction of shore power facilities would cost $40 million (HK$315 million) and would take 60 months. It would then cost $1.8 (HK$14 million) a year to operate.

"The survey findings suggest that setting up onshore power supply is not a priority task among cruise ports in the Asia Pacific region and this will likely remain so in the foreseeable future," the department said.

CAN Disappointed

Hong Kong’s Clean Air Network (CAN) is very disappointed. According to the 2012 emission inventory for Hong Kong published by the Environmental Protection Department, ocean going ships became the number one source of inhalable suspended particulates, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in Hong Kong. 

Cruise ships accounted for 2.4 percent of SO2, 0.9 percent of NOx and 1.5 percent of particulate matter respectively, says CAN. 

As estimated by Hedley Environmental Index in 2014, air pollution caused 2,616 premature deaths and 32.657 billion in lost (Hong Kong) dollars. Thus, we can calculate that by installing onshore power supply, the death number could be reduced by 42 and HK$523 million could be gained annually, said CAN in a statement.

CAN CEO Sum Yin Kwong says, “The government tends to calculate cost benefits without considering external social costs. Comparing similar community projects such as spending 600 million for a gymnasium, the building of onshore power facilities is certainly worthwhile in order to protect public health.”

CAN says the government should seize the opportunity to be the forerunner in Asia and attracts shore-power-capable cruise ships to come by providing the facilities.

MarEx reviewed the views of various ports around the world on the benefits of shore power here.

New Sulfur Regulations

It is expected that most cruise ships will find it more cost-effective to switch fuels at berth. The Hong Kong Marine Department is implementing a new low-sulfur regulation for ocean-going vessels moored or anchored at a berth in Hong Kong waters from July 1, 2015.

Lloyd’s Register explains, the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (Cap. 311AA) requires vessels to use compliant fuels while at berth in Hong Kong when operating main engines (except when used for the propulsion of the vessel), auxiliary engines, boilers or generators. The requirement does not apply during the first hour after arrival and the last hour before departure.

Under the regulation, compliant fuel means low-sulfur fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 0.5 percent by weight, LNG or any other fuel approved by the Hong Kong authority. Exemptions may be granted for emission abatement technologies.
After the Regulation enters into force on July 1, 2015, masters and owners of any OGVs using non-compliant fuel while at berth in Hong Kong may be liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months. Masters and owners who fail to keep the required records may also be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for three months.