AFIR agreement: ESPO welcomes that both the deployment and use of onshore power supply is regulated, but underlines the need to prioritise OPS investments

28 March 2023

Last night, the European Parliament’s negotiators and the Council reached a deal on the requirements for Alternative Fuel Infrastructure, the so-called “AFIR”. In line with the agreement, 2030 will be the deadline for TEN-T ports to have shore side electricity infrastructure in place to serve the demand from container and passenger ships. The new legislation also introduces a demand-based requirement for the provision of liquefied methane (often referred to as LNG) by 2025, providing legal and investment certainty for ports.

The greening of shipping is a priority for ports in Europe. To realise the greening ambitions for shipping, both during navigation and at berth, both ships and shoreside actors must get ready. Along with facilitating the provision of bunkering infrastructure for future fuels, the deployment of onshore power supply infrastructure is an important pillar for reducing emissions at berth in ports.

Whereas ESPO is convinced that the use and deployment of alternative fuels and shore side electricity (SSE, also known as OPS) will help make the green transition a reality, shore side electricity should not be seen as an end in itself.

ESPO is very much in favour of the flexibility provided for ports in deploying shore side electricity in key locations in the port, prioritising the berths and terminals where emissions can be reduced the most. Europe’s ports therefore hope that the agreed-upon recital making such prioritisation possible will be well considered in the implementation.

ESPO further welcomes that the new Regulation is not interfering with the governance models of the different European ports when it comes to defining the responsibilities of the different stakeholders.

Moreover, ESPO believes that the huge investments that must be made in ports to meet the new AFIR requirements can only be realised if they come with significant public funding instruments which are fit for purpose. Installing and providing OPS infrastructure remains a complex and costly exercise, with a limited and slow return on investment for the managing body. Since the price tag will be an important element in the decision of the shipping lines to use OPS, ESPO also strongly calls for the introduction of an EU-wide permanent tax exemption for shore side electricity in Article 15 of the proposal for a reviewed Energy Taxation Directive.

Finally, the onshore power investments in ports will only deliver and make sense if the infrastructure is well used. ESPO therefore welcomes that the agreement on FuelEU Maritime, reached last week, introduces a requirement for ships to use shore side electricity at berth in TEN-T ports as well as in other ports which installed this infrastructure starting in 2030. These requirements are a precondition for effective emission reductions during navigation and at berth, and must be robustly implemented and enforced as soon as possible. Since many ports in Europe will have shore side electricity available before 2030, ESPO very much hopes for the engagement of shipping lines to use shore side electricity when available before 2030.

“We welcome this agreement on AFIR, above all since for the first time the AFIR requirements are accompanied by a legislative framework that regulates the use of the infrastructure that has to be deployed in ports. It is now important for ports to sit together with all relevant stakeholders including the shipping lines to make quick progress ahead of 2030. It is essential for both EU and national authorities to foresee the adequate funding schemes and for ports to submit their projects”, says ESPO Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.

ESPO will continue to work closely with EU policymakers in the implementation and enforcement of AFIR and FuelEU Maritime to make the greening of shipping a reality. 

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