L.A. port completes successful megaship shore-power test
A post-Panamax container vessel calling at the Port of Los Angeles recently became the largest vessel yet to successfully draw auxiliary ship power from a port-developed shore-based electrical power system.
The 8,600-TEU Xin Ya Zhou, owned by China Shipping Line, normally uses its auxiliary diesel engines to generate power while at berth. However, the vessel was modified to pull power from the port's Alternative Maritime Power system, allowing the diesel motors to be turned off. Vessel auxiliary engines, found on nearly all ocean-going cargo vessels, have been pinpointed as the source of more than half of the total air pollution an ocean-going vessel generates while docked.
While some newer ships are being designed to use shore-based power systems, most existing vessels have to retrofit to bypass their auxiliary engines. The retrofit can cost the shipping line upwards of $500,000 per vessel.
A smaller China Shipping vessel plugged into the Los Angeles port's AMP shore-side power system barge.
The port's AMP system, developed by Christchurch, New Zealand-based Cavotec MSL, was installed several years ago and has been used with several smaller cargo vessels. Unlike the neighboring Port of Long Beach, which is developing a dedicated on-shore electrical power hook-up at certain berths, the Los Angeles system uses a floating barge that acts as the intermediary between the shore connection and the vessel.
Both ports are moving toward providing shore-based electrical power at the majority of their terminals following the California Air Resources Board approval of a state regulation mandating the systems by the earlier this year.
The regulation will require about 95 percent of container, passenger and refrigerated cargo ships calling at six California ports to plug into shore-based power sources to receive their electricity or meet equivalent emission reductions through other means.
The new rule includes a complicated series of deadlines for actually reducing the auxiliary engine emissions, depending on which scenario shipping lines chose to implement.
A shipping line choosing to implement shore-side power for its vessels will have to eliminate half of its California-calling fleet's overall emissions by 2014. The number jumps to 80 percent in 2020.
If the shipping line chooses to rely on alternative technology — such as emissions filtering at the smokestack or low-emission dockside generators — the firm must reduce its California-calling fleet's total emissions by 20 percent before 2010, 40 percent by 2012, 60 percent by 2014 and 80 percent by 2016.
Shipping lines may also choose to utilize a combination of the two scenarios. Under the new rules, a shipping line using a third option, a combination of the first two, would be required to reduce its California-calling total fleet emissions by 20 before 2012, 50 percent by 2014, and 80 percent by 2020.
Ports covered under the shore-side power regulation include Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and Hueneme in Ventura County.