Ground Power Unit

Shorepower (also known as Cold Ironing or shore supply) is the provision of shoreside electrical power to a ship at berth while its main and auxiliary engines are turned off.[1] Cold ironing is not common on merchant ships as it involves switching off all its independent internal power sources when in harbor. While the term denotes shore as opposed to off-shore, it is sometimes erroneously applied to aircraft or land-based vehicles (such as campers, heavy trucks with sleeping compartments and tour buses), which may plug into grid power when parked for idle reduction.

The source for land-based power may be grid power from an electric utility company, but also possibly an external remote generator. These generators may be powered by diesel or renewable energy sources such as wind or solar.

Shore power saves consumption of fuel that would otherwise be used to power vessels while in port, and eliminates the air pollution associated with consumption of that fuel. A port city may have anti-idling laws that require ships to use shore power. Use of shore power may facilitate maintenance of the ship's engines and generators, and reduces noise.

Ocean going ships

"Cold ironing" is specifically a shipping industry term that came into use when all ships had coal-fired engines. When a ship tied up at port, there was no need to continue to feed the fire and the iron engines would literally cool down, eventually going completely cold – hence the term "cold ironing".

See article on Cold Ironing for shipping related information.

Small craft

On small private boats, the power supply used is usually the same as regular household electric power. Some small craft may not need electric power while docked, or may replace on-board generators (if any) with solar panels sufficient to run a small battery-operated system. Boats that are connected to shorepower only need sufficient battery capacity to last until the next shorepower connection.

Batteries on a vessel may be used to power an inverter (SMPS) capable of producing AC, which can be used for appliances that require AC power.


Shore power, as it relates to the trucking industry, is commonly referred to as "Truck Stop Electrification" (TSE). The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that trucks plugging in versus idling on diesel fuel could save as much as 3240 US$ annually.[2] There are currently 138 truck stops[3] in the USA that offer on-board systems (also called Shore power) or off-board systems (also called single system electrification) for an hourly fee. Auxiliary power units offer another alternative to both idling and shore power for trucks.


Similar to shore power for ships, a ground power unit (GPU) may be used to supply electric power for an aircraft on the ground, to sustain interior lighting, ventilation and other requirements before starting of the main engines or the aircraft auxiliary power unit (APU). It is also used by aircraft with APUs if the airport authority does not permit the usage of APUs at its docks or if the carrier wishes to save on the use of jet fuel (which APUs use). This may be a self-contained engine-generator set, or it may convert commercial power to the voltage and frequency needed for the aircraft.

See also


A Cold Ironing Study on Modern Ports, Implementation and Benefits Thriving for Worldwide Ports

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