Plans to extend electrification all along the Seattle waterfront are progressing, with shore power construction underway at the city’s cruise ship terminal, Port of Seattle Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed said Thursday.
Improvements to berths 6 and 8 at Terminal 91 to accommodate fishing and commercial vessels “will also have shore power. We’re making a major investment on that side,” Mohamed said at the annual Kings County Maritime Economic Forecast breakfast during the Pacific Marine Expo.
Providing shore power to berthed vessels - eliminating the need to run onboard generators, and the resulting air pollution affecting nearby neighborhoods - is a growing demand on port operators, from residents of Red Hook in Brooklyn, N.Y., to the San Francisco Bay area.
For Seattle, electrification is part of a broader future, said Mohamed.
“Transitioning vessels away from fossil fuels is the biggest transition we face,” she said.
The goal of reducing air polluting carbon emissions from maritime transport is driving many projects, such as the Washington State Ferries’ $150 million contract with Vigor shipyard to convert three Jumbo Mark-II class ferries to hybrid electric power.
But Mohamed cautioned “we know electrification won’t work” for every application. Moreover, “solutions like electrification will require more energy than we have now.”
In the past decade, the Seattle region has demonstrated how to grow the maritime industry in ways that address climate change and environmental protection, said Joshua Berger, founder and CEO of Washington Maritime Blue, a nonprofit working as an “accelerator” for maritime startups, with 56 ventures supported so far.