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terminal med europe

How to use renewable energy for connecting ships to the electric grid

Why this challenge?

Défi EDF : s'appuyer sur les énergies renouvelables pour raccorder des navires au réseau électrique

Given the growing extent of energy problems as well as the constraints imposed by European environmental regulations, port areas must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants (fine particles, nitrous oxides, etc.) caused by all shipping activities. Special emphasis should be placed on local production of renewable energy and development of a dockside electrical supply system, to minimize ships’ dependence on fossil fuels.


To address this problem, we are proposing a study of the link between photovoltaic generation for direct use and energy storage in batteries. A digital model could simulate connection of ships. An analysis of the system status and especially transitional phenomena could then suggest various scenarios for meeting this challenge. The results will focus on tangible proposals for the system architecture and piloting strategies to be implemented.

Sample situation

The power drawn by a ship connected at the dock is difficult to predict. It depends on the size and type of ship connected. This power therefore can vary considerably, up to about 10 MW. The solution developed must be able to handle this demand while ensuring safety and quality of the supply.

Anticipated benefits

The solution developed must maximize local production and on-site consumption of renewable energy, while reducing dependence on fossil fuels in a port area. At the same time, the solution considered must also minimize the work required to upgrade the electrical system.

Trial, resources and co‑innovation


The test bed for this challenge will be the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille (GPMM), especially the eastern docks. In this sector, the docks are already equipped with a number of electrical connections downstream from the 20 kV/11 kV transformers, and a program to commission these facilities is now under consideration.

In this same area, photovoltaic systems with a capacity of up to several MW could be installed on the sheds, warehouses and parking areas. The associated output could be fed directly into the GPMM 20 kV circuit.

Given the fluctuations in the load curve, the variability of renewable energy and the mismatch in the timing of use and production, the system architecture will have to be revised and its operation must be upgraded to optimize supply/demand balance. Specifically, electric batteries could handle load draws, ensure service continuity and quality, and maximize the share of renewable energy consumed on site.

Initially, the proposed simulation software will specifically study the dynamic variations and transitional effects on the system (frequency modulation, harmonics, short-circuit current, etc.) linked to connecting ships at the dock.

Based on the findings of this study, various models linking renewable production, storage, as well as coupling between uses, will be proposed. Each model must ensure continuity, quality and safety of the connection service, under all circumstances. Special attention will be paid to integration of storage and economic optimization of the overall system.

Resources available

Technical expertise (EDF, GPMM, existing studies and analyses)


Specific coaching and co-experimentation between the company selected, EDF and GPMM


Profile for the expected startup

To meet the challenge posed, the company selected must possess genuine qualifications in dimensioning and analysis (static and dynamic) studies of electrical systems (energy sources, power electronics, controls, regulation, etc.).

Digital modeling skills for analysis of the dynamic and transitional phenomena and “system” analyses (electrotechnical, energy sources, power electronics, and interfaces) are also expected. Finally, genuine practical expertise in dimensioning and piloting of storage systems is necessary.