Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine establishes cold-ironing power supply for fishing trawlers at Killybegs Harbour.

Key results & achievements

  • 2,000

    tonnes of CO2 emissions saved per year
  • Improved

    air quality at harbour
  • Better

    reliability of shore power

The Project

Killybegs Harbour, County Donegal, is a fishing port and one of the safest and most sheltered deep-water harbours on the Irish coast. It is home to around 25 pelagic trawlers, with the fishing industry providing around 800 of the 1,200 jobs in the local economy. The harbour also attracts visiting trawlers from as far afield as Norway, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Iceland.  

Previously, when trawlers were in port, they relied on 70 kVA diesel generators to maintain power supply for prolonged periods. Significant quantities of diesel were needed to operate these generators making for a polluted and noisy environment along the pier.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine understood the need to improve this situation and undertook to design and install a state-of-the-art shore-to-ship power supply system, known as cold-ironing, thus, servicing the vessels with mains power rather than diesel generators.

Working with the local pelagic fishing industry the system was designed by White Young Green Consulting Engineers Belfast and constructed by Tiernan Engineering Ltd from Balinrobe Co Mayo.

This prototype project was part funded by the Irish Government and the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund as part of the EMFF Operational Programme for 2014-2020 and was commissioned in July 2020 at a cost of €1.7 million.


The scheme has been well-received by all harbour users and the vessel owners can now power down their deck generators, saving significant quantities of diesel and reducing the harbour’s annual CO2 emissions by 2,000 tonnes per year, which is equivalent to removing nearly 500 cars from the road.

The installation has also improved the harbour by reducing noise, improving air quality, and reducing fire risk and maintenance requirements for trawlers. The reliability of shore power is also a major benefit to vessel owners.  

By drawing cleaner more sustainable power from the grid, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine have proactively future-proofed this part of the harbour in view of the targets set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as it works toward reducing emissions from shipping by at least 50 per cent by 2050 compared with 2008.  

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