American Shipper

Oakland port’s vessel electrification system cuts emissions

Oakland portÆs vessel electrification system cuts emissions

A program using clean-burning dockside generators to provide electricity to cargo vessels docked at the Port of Oakland has completed its first successful test, demonstrating the system could cut vessel at-dock pollution by more than 90 percent.

   In July, the port's board of commissioner approved $275,000 to fund the pilot project, which offers an alternative to current ship-to-shore power models by eliminating the need to tap into the commercial power grid.

   Plugging vessels into shore-based power, called cold-ironing, allows vessels to turn off their diesel-powered auxiliary engines. These engines are a main contributor to port-area emissions such as particulate matter'seen as exhaust soot'and oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, both smog-forming components.

   A 2004 feasibility study on ship-to-shore power in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles found that, like most ports, the local power transmission and delivery systems were wholly inadequate to provide large amounts of power grid electricity. Oakland, the fourth-busiest container port in the nation, found that upgrading their electrical system for grid-based ship electrification would cost upwards of $90 million.

   The Oakland system differs from conventional grid-based system by utilizing dockside liquefied natural gas-powered generators. The generators provide necessary shipboard power while the vessels are at berth.

   In a July 18 test of the Oakland port's generator-based pilot project, being conducted with ocean carrier APL, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., emissions sampling showed significant reduction in emissions compared to the diesel engines aboard the APL test vessel.

   Emission samples from the eight-hour test showed a nearly 99.9 percent reduction in particulate matter, a 95 percent drop in oxides of nitrogen and a total elimination of oxides of sulfur.

   Port officials are considering a plan that would use LNG generators to cold iron every ship entering its port by 2010, 10 years in advance of CARB’s proposed regulations.

   An additional test of the LNG generator system is set to take place at the Port of Richmond later this year.