You can feel the energy of the Algoma Sault when you step inside her Engine Control Room. Two large blue panels with gauges and meters fill the room. Operators watch closely as energy levels fluctuate on a screen as a portion of its canola cargo, brought in from western Canada, is discharged at Pier 11. The Algoma Sault was built in 2017. It is a self-unloading, 740-foot bulk carrier. The vessel is one of 11 currently laid-up at the Port of Hamilton for the winter season.

Shore power is vital during the winter months. When a vessel navigates the Seaway, it runs on diesel fuel, but when the Seaway closes for the season and vessels remain at port, they turn to shore power. The main generators and other systems onboard are shutdown and the ship is connected to the local power grid for it’s “hotel load”, meaning only essential utilities. Heat is needed for the remaining crew, power is used in the galley for cooking meals, water and sanitary requirements are met, as well as essential lighting.

Shore power has been available at the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA) for decades. It is an effective way for ship operators to reduce air emissions during winter layup. Vessels at berth in Hamilton during the winter 2022 layup season, used more than 1.3 million kwh of energy. The switch to grid electricity is equivalent to removing about 200 cars from the road for one year.