Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

 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.

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

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 COemissions 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.”