Having made the promise in 2021 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, MSC Cruises is continuously exploring and investing in new technologies.
On this journey, minimising the impact of cruises ships on port communities and their environment while berthed is key, the company said.
Shore power plays a role in this quest. It enables ships to switch off their engines and connect to local electric power to run their on board systems.
With electricity travelling to the ship through a specially designed transformer on the dockside, this process prevents emissions produced from diesel generators, improving local air quality, as well as reducing noise and vibration levels.
Following significant investments in its fleet capabilities, last week, MSC Cruises announced concrete steps and commitments to adopt and accelerate the use of shore power.
From the end of May throughout the 2022 summer season, two MSC cruise ships will be using shore power for the first time – ’MSC Virtuosa’ in the UK port of Southampton’s new Horizon Cruise Terminal, and ’MSC Poesia’ in Rostock/Warnemünde, Germany.
Southampton is Europe’s leading embarkation cruise port, welcoming over 2 mill passengers per year. It is also the UK’s first port to provide shore power for cruise vessels. Rostock/Warnemünde is the largest shore power provider for cruise ships in Europe.
In both cases, close collaboration with local authorities has made the supply and use of shore power possible. From a practical side, MSC Cruises 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.
Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ Director of Sustainability, said, “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.
“We at MSC Cruises are continuously striving to improve our environmental footprint, and shore power allows us to do so by drastically reducing our ships’ emissions while berthed. 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,” he said.
In another initiative, on 5th April, 2022, Cruise Baltic and MSC Cruises signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning a joint effort to contribute to use of shore power supply in the Baltic Sea.
Cruise Baltic covers 32 ports and destinations in the Baltic Sea area. By signing the agreement, Cruise Baltic has committed to work for shore power supply facilities in the region with the aim of increasing the number of facilities in the Baltic.
For its part, MSC Cruises committed to ensure that cruise ships regularly calling at Baltic Sea ports use the shore power supply if available, as soon as possible, and no later than from 1st January, 2024.
By the end of this year, 11 of MSC Cruises’ 21 ships – including all the new ships built since 2017 – will be fitted with a shore power capability. Existing ships are currently being or will be retrofitted, 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.
Coppell added, “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.
“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 on board energy demands and ship technical systems, need to be considered as part of shore side planning,” he explained.
In addition, wherever MSC Cruises is involved in the building and financing of new terminals, the company ensures the designs take account of shore power requirements, providing the infrastructure, such as trenches for the power cables – current examples being the Cruise Division’s new terminals at Miami and Barcelona.
Other cutting-edge environmental technologies deployed across MSC Cruises’ fleet include – 14 MSC Cruises’ vessels have been fitted with hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems, ensuring an SOx reduction of 98%. By the end of 2022, the five newest ships will have selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems fitted, which convert NOx 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 fuelled vessels. LNG is by far the cleanest marine fuel currently available at scale. LNG fuelled ships’ engines will have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25%, compared to standard marine fuels.
‘MSC World Europa’ will also be the first cruise ship to deploy solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology. This type of fuel cell is designed to generate electricity up to 20 to 30% more efficiently through a non-combustion electrochemical process when utilising LNG, compared to traditional marine combustion-based propulsion and auxiliary engines.
When running on LNG, SOFC technology reduces carbon equivalent emissions by up to 60%, compared to incumbent propulsion sources, such as dual fuel diesel electric engines, and emits virtually zero harmful air pollutants like sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Experience gained through the initial installation on ’’MSC World Europa’ is expected to allow for scaling up future systems of this type, MSC said.
In addition, the Cruise Division has initiated various partnerships with shipyards, energy providers, infrastructure companies, technology developers and academic institutions. These will allow further studies to be conducted on fuel cells, hydrogen-powered vessels and other emerging technologies that offer the potential to enable net-zero emissions ships.
MSC’s ambition is to increasingly study and test these potential solutions through newbuilding and retrofitting programmes, to accelerate their development, help them reach maturity, and deploy them across the fleet, the company concluded.
Environmental technologies on ’MSC World Europa’ and ’MSC Euribia’ will include:
*Engines and fuels: Four Wärtsilä (12V and 16V) dual fuel engines generally running on LNG, occasionally on 0.1% sulphur marine gasoil (MGO).
*Air Emissions: SCR system that reduces NOx emissions by up to 90% when the ship runs on MGO (LNG offers a similar NOx reduction) – ‘MSC Euribia’ will meet the IMO’s Tier III standards regardless of the fuel used.
Shore-to-ship power connectivity, allowing the ship to switch off the engines and connect to local power grids at ports where this infrastructure is available.
*Wastewater: Advanced wastewater treatment system complying with the IMO’s MEPC 227(64) standards – the so-called ‘Baltic Standard’.
Ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) will prevent the introduction of invasive species in the marine environment through ballast water discharges, complying with the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention.
*Protecting Marine Life: Underwater radiated noise reduction measures with hull and engine room designs that minimise acoustic sound impact, reducing any potential effects on marine fauna, most particularly on marine mammals in the surrounding waters.
*Energy Efficiency: All MSC Cruises’ newbuildings incorporate a wide range of energy efficient equipment that help reduce and optimise on board energy use. These include various technologies such as smart ventilation and advanced air conditioning systems with automated energy recovery loops that redistribute heat and cold to reduce demand.