Feature / 26 May 2024

Partnership in action for clean cruising

Scotland’s picturesque Orkney Islands is one of the United Kingdom’s top destinations for cruise passengers with more and more exploring the archipelago’s scenery, wildlife and culture. Last year, 206 vessels carrying about 202,000 passengers called at the islands.

But such popularity can come at a price which could threaten the very thing that attracts so many. That’s why the Clean Cruise initiative was launched to promote sustainable practices, including cold ironing shore power to cut the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of visiting cruise ships.

Cold ironing
Work has already begun on the development of the first cold ironing buoy in the Bay of Kirkwall. The feasibility study will investigate how to deliver renewable power to anchored cruise ships by connecting to an Onshore Power Supply through a subsea cable, possibly allowing ships to eliminate emissions from their power supply while visiting the region. The project is one of 33 different clean maritime focused projects to have received backing from the government’s fourth round of its Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

The Orkney Islands project involves the installation of cold ironing facilities, which enable ships to plug into shore-side electrical power while docked, thereby reducing the need to keep their engines running. This technology significantly cuts down emissions of GHG and other pollutants, making port operations cleaner and more sustainable.

The initiative is particularly impactful for the cruise industry, where large ships often spend extended periods in port, contributing to local air pollution.

The power of partnership
GAC UK is drawing on its resources and expertise to support this decarbonisation effort in collaboration with Orcades Marine Management consultants and other partners, including Schneider Electric, Orkney Harbours, and Aquatera, which provides environmental and operational support for marine, coastal and land-based activities.

It’s a partnership of which Charlotte Bruce, GAC UK’s Commercial Manager for Shipping Services, is particularly proud.

"With over 12 years’ experience in agency across all shipping sectors, and having written my Master's dissertation on future fuels, it’s a personal passion of mine to find ways to develop relationships which can support our customers' decarbonisation journeys,” she says.

“Our relationship with Orcades Marine Management consultants is a great example of this. We have worked together for more than a decade to deliver a variety of services including global ship deliveries, vessel reactivations, subsea renewable project support and, most recently, working on the feasibility study for cold ironing for cruise ships at Kirkwall Bay."

Charlotte Bruce May 2024 2

This project aligns seamlessly with the GAC Group strategy of exploring new avenues for sustainability and reinforcing customer and stakeholder relationships.

What’s more, the initiative in the Orkney Islands reflects GAC’s priorities and proactive approach to addressing environmental challenges the maritime industry faces.

Innovation and commitment
GAC UK’s participation in the development of cold ironing shore power in the Orkney Islands is a significant milestone in its journey towards helping the maritime sector embrace more sustainable and cleaner operations.

The company’s involvement in the Clean Cruise initiative is one of many ways it is supporting both its own and its customers’ decarbonisation journeys. By championing initiatives that reduce emissions and promote cleaner port activities, GAC UK and its partners in the project are setting a benchmark for the industry. As the maritime sector continues to evolve, such innovation paired with a commitment to sustainability will pave the way for a greener future.

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