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Minister McConalogue welcomes environmentally friendly “Cold Ironing Project” in Killybegs, eliminating 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., visited Killybegs today to view the “Cold Ironing Project” in Killybegs Harbour.


Cold ironing, a shipping term that first came into use when all ships had coal-fired engines, describes the situation where a ship, tied up at port, no longer needed to continue to feed its fires and its iron engines cooled down, eventually going cold – hence, ‘cold iron’. The days of coal-fired engines may be behind us, but an environmentally friendly cold ironing project is being spearheaded in Killybegs Harbour. This project is aimed at reducing emissions by allowing  diesel engines on trawlers, that would normally be running to heat and provide power, to be replaced by clean mains power while in port.


Welcoming the project, the Minister said, “The reality of the impacts of climate change, and particularly for our seas and oceans, is becoming ever more visible.  With that comes the need to drive the development of climate actions that deliver a sustainable, competitive and innovative seafood sector. This prototype project delivering cleaner power supply to fishing vessels in port is one such action.”


The Minister went on to say, “I am delighted to have been able to co-fund this project with the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme for 2014-2020. Killybegs Harbour is Irelands premier fishing port and as such can be an exceptionally busy port.  This project provides plug-in electric facilities so that large trawlers no longer have to run diesel generators while in port.  The result is a reduction of 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year – equivalent to taking almost 500 cars off the road and improvements in the local environment through reduced noise and air pollution.”


The Department commissioned the “Cold Ironing Project” in July 2020 at a cost of €1.7 million. Working closely with the local pelagic fishing industry, the system was designed by White Young Green Consulting Engineers, Belfast and constructed by Tiernan Engineering from Balinrobe, Co. Mayo.  Previously, trawlers in port relied on diesel generators to maintain their power supply. Significant quantities of diesel were needed to operate these generators, making for a noisy and polluted environment along the pier. The introduction of mains power will deliver significant savings of diesel and reduce the harbours annual CO2 emissions by 2,000 tonnes per year, reduce noise pollution, improve air quality and benefit vessel owners through the provision of reliable shore power, while reducing vessel fire risk and maintenance requirements.


This project is aligned the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019 and demonstrates an ongoing commitment to delivering measurable emission reductions and sustainable developments across the six Fishery Harbour Centres.  The current Climate Action Plan 2021 builds on this commitment and sets out a roadmap for taking decisive action to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero no later than 2050.  This includes actions through which marine-environment mitigation and adaptation actions can be progressed and implemented.


Concluding, the Minister said, “Climate action is actively being embedded in policies, programmes and work streams across my Department and within the agencies under my remit, and progress will continue to be made to implement meaningful climate actions to ensure that our coastal communities and maritime sectors can continue to play their role in contributing to our climate change goals.”



Notes for Editors

“Cold ironing”, or shore connection, shore-to-ship power (SSP) or alternative maritime power (AMP), is the process of providing shoreside electrical power to a ship at berth while its main and auxiliary engines are turned off.

Killybegs harbour is home to around 25 very large pelagic trawlers, with the whitefish industry providing for around 800 of the 1200 jobs in the local economy.

The value and volume of landings in 2020 in Killybegs is :


Value of landings €M

Volume of landings (tonnes)


Irish  vessels




Irish vessels

Non-Irish vessels









*source BIM

Killybegs attracts visiting trawlers from distant shores such as Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland. The provision of mains power can also be provided to these vessels and would significantly reduce the quantities of diesel needed to maintain their power supply in port.

In Killybegs (2020):

  • Processing is the main driver of the seafood economy.
  • The seafood sector employs 2,133 FTEs, 1,007 directly and 1,127 downstream
  • Highest multiplier for employment; every 100 jobs generate 112 jobs downstream
  • In the Killybegs hinterland the seafood economy accounts for 29% of all economic activity and 45% of all employment.

*source BIM

The Climate Action Plan 2021 document is available to view and/or download here:

The inclusion of a Marine-related chapter for the first time reflects an increased understanding that climate change is causing fundamental changes to our marine environment and it acknowledges that, by increasing our awareness of the value of Ireland’s seas, we will ensure support for the sustainable management of our marine resources. The Climate Action Plan 2021 includes a number of innovative maritime-related climate actions including but not limited to studies to test seaweed cultivation techniques for eventual inclusion in cattle feed to reduce methane production, increasing ocean knowledge and supporting research and innovation, increasing Ireland’s knowledge base of marine climate actions and blue carbon potential to inform national mitigation actions, the completion of the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture, along with the development of criteria for marine protected areas and the completion of a pilot study on improving the carbon efficiency of fishing gear design.

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine led actions (including actions by the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara) are as follows:

  • Action 392: Increase Ireland’s knowledge base in terms of marine climate change impacts and blue carbon potential to inform the development of national.
  • Action 393: Increase ocean knowledge and support research and innovation, investing in research and innovation.
  • Action 397: Increase broader public understanding of the effects of climate change on the sea.
  • Action 401: Identify areas of climate action appropriate to the Seafood Development Programme 2021-27 European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund
  • Acton 402: Complete the National Strategic Plan for Sustainable Aquaculture, including climate measures.
  • Action 403: Publish the Seafood Carbon Footprint Study. To provide a detailed analysis of the carbon footprint of the catching and aquaculture sectors.
  • Action 404: Improving carbon efficiency pilot study through novel Nephrops fishing gear design.
  • Action 405: Maintain participation rate of 96% in the Clean Oceans Initiative and bring the fishery harbour centres in line with the Port Reception Facilities.
  • Action 406: Anti-methanogenesis study - Develop a study to test Asparagopsis armata different seaweeds cultivation techniques for eventual inclusion in cattle feed to reduce methane production.


  1. L to R:  John Campbell Regional Engineer, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM); Minister Charlie McConalogue, TD; Noel Clancy, Chief Engineer , (DAFM)
  2. As Picture 1
  3. John Campbell, Noel Clancy, Fergal Hegarty (Harbourmaster, Killybegs), Minister McConalogue
  4. Fergal Hegarty, Minister McConalogue
  5. John Campbell, Minister McConalogue, Fergal Hegarty, Noel Clancy