The San Rafael, Calif.-based global logistics and transportation services provider is transforming its multi-use terminal at the Port of Los Angeles into a laboratory for clean energy technologies.
Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals is transforming its multi-use terminal at the Port of Los Angeles into a testbed for near-zero emission and renewable energy technologies that are designed to make port operations more sustainable.
Some of the technologies, such as battery-powered forklifts and yard tractors, are used to move cargo at various container ports around the United States. A unique aspect of the Pasha demonstration project is that it integrates several types of clean equipment in a breakbulk terminal, which typically handles a variety of non-uniform, heavy loads such as steel, containers and machinery, and has different operating requirements than a container terminal.
“We’re going to be the proving ground to change the paradigm of how large industrial facilities can run on clean energy. We’re confident we can show this is absolutely attainable,” Jeffrey Burgin, senior vice president of Pasha, said in a statement issued by the port authority.
In a phone interview, he said that part of the motivation is to speed up technology development before local, state or federal governments hand down environmental mandates that can crimp business flexibility.
Sustainability is increasing in importance as a strategic goal for commercial ports because they have a significant impact on local communities in terms of harmful fossil-fuel emissions and traffic congestion resulting from vessels, cargo-handling equipment, trucks and trains that move ocean freight. Residents and community activists fight to limit expansion of industrial complexes in their backyard when pollution becomes a healthcare issue. That is what happened in Southern California in the early 2000s. Important infrastructure projects were put on hold for several years until the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach developed clean-air action plans to reduce particulate matter, sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide.
The 40-acre Pasha terminal is adjacent to Wilmington, a neighborhood identified by California regulators as disproportionately impacted by pollution from the port complex.
The project’s goals are to integrate zero-emission vehicles and cargo-handling equipment in regular terminal operations, reduce emissions at berth from ships not regulated under California law, accelerate the development of commercially viable zero- and near-zero emission equipment and create an in-house energy source to reduce reliance on the electric grid.
A major piece of the project is a micro-grid, featuring a 1 megawatt rooftop solar array, battery storage, and bi-directional charging equipment that can receive as well as supply power, and an energy management system that balances power needs with capacity, so portions of the terminal can operate independently for a period of time in the event of a power loss.
The small-scale power network is primarily designed as a backup system to increase the terminal’s resiliency. If a storm or other disaster cuts off power, a circuit breaker will separate the micro-grid from the main grid, making the micro-grid an island of power.
“The whole vision of the Pasha Terminal is to be self-reliant in case the grid goes down,” Carter Atkins, an environmental specialist with the Port of Los Angeles, explained.
Burgin told American Shipper the original vision for the project was to have a facility that could be used by first responders and the U.S. military as a base of operations to deliver food aid, healthcare and other emergency services to the region if there were a catastrophic event.
The energy control system will allow the battery to charge up on solar during the day and charge from the grid, if necessary, at night.
Atkins said the micro-grid, which is being installed by the engineering firm Burns & McDonnell, could also be used to reduce utility costs by shaving use of the grid during peak hours when rates are high.
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The micro-grid will be scalable, with future phases expected to include some form of back-up power generation from a clean energy source or fuel cell, he said. Planners eventually hope to produce the world’s first marine terminal able to generate all of its energy needs from renewable sources.
Other ports are also exploring micro-grids to offset a baseline portion of terminals’ power needs and increase operational reliability. Micro-grids are appealing because they offer better energy management, high quality power and resiliency, Clay Sandidge, president of Muni-Fed Energy, said in the Summer 2014 issue of the American Association of Port Authorities’ Seaports magazine.
For moving cargo, Pasha will purchase four battery-electric yard tractors for moving containers or other cargo on trailers, and repower two heavy-lift forklifts, two drayage trucks for making local deliveries and a top handler. The repowering, which will be done by a company called Transpower, involves replacing diesel engine components with electric motors and batteries.
The modified cargo-handling equipment, which represents about 10 percent of the terminal’s entire fleet, will be subject to the same rigorous duty cycles of conventional equipment, officials said.
Another source of port pollution is vessels at berth.
Ships typically run auxiliary engines with some form of marine fuel to power heating, cooling, refrigeration, electric, computer and other onboard systems. To address respiratory health concerns in port communities, the California legislature passed a law requiring container and refrigerated cargo vessels, as well as cruise ships, to reduce at-berth emissions in 2014 by turning off auxiliary engines and connecting to another power source, or using alternative technology that reduces emissions by an equivalent amount. Under the statute, half the vessels in those categories, and half of each company’s fleet, must hook up to electric power. The vessel threshold rises to 70 percent in 2017 and 80 percent in 2020.
California ports invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build electric infrastructure on the docks so ships can plug into shore power. Vessel operators have also had to invest in vessel retrofits and build new ships with shore power capabilities.
But the rules currently don’t apply to bulk, breakbulk, and roll-on/roll-off vessels. Meanwhile, owners of containerships are only retrofitting vessels that regularly call at West Coast ports because there is no economic benefit to do so for those that get routed there on an infrequent basis.
Two Southern California companies have developed similar alternatives to shore power that capture engine emissions at the smoke stack and funnel the soot and gases to an after-treatment device.
The barge-mounted systems, which use a crane to place a large hose over the smokestack, are currently in limited use at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach after gaining approval from the California Air Resources Board.
Pasha has elected to purchase a land-based version of the marine exhaust treatment system from Clean Air Engineering-Maritime Inc., which also plans to demonstrate its ability to capture carbon dioxide pollution.
Atkins said breakbulk terminals don’t have the same space constraints as container terminals and therefore can accommodate a land-based system. A land-based system offers lower operating costs because it doesn’t require a barge and tugs don’t need to be hired to move the barge around the port.
The smoke-stack scrubber, called ShoreCat, will be operated, moved from berth to berth, and maintained by longshoremen under Pasha’s direction, Burgin said.
The total cost for Phase One of the “Green Terminal” is $26.6 million, with $14.5 million coming through a CARB grant program aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants, $11.4 million from Pasha and the balance from its partners. Phase One includes the solar array, cargo-handling equipment and the vessel exhaust treatment system.
One reason for CARB’s interest in the project is that zero-emission technologies could have broader applications and breakbulk terminals often use equipment similar to that in non-port settings like warehouses, Port of Long Beach spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.
The competitive grant, the first of its kind for a multi-source facility demonstration project available through the CARB, required matching funds of at least 25 percent. Pasha, the port authority and other partners exceeded that threshold with a 44 percent funding match.
Project implementation started in June with the final design and construction of the solar-powered micro-grid. Plans are to add the cargo-handling equipment and the vessel emissions capture system by the end of the year.
The comprehensive strategy is expected to reduce more than 3,200 tons per year of greenhouse gases and nearly 28 tons annually of diesel particulate matter, nitrogen oxide and other harmful emissions from operations. The clean air gains equate to taking 14,100 cars a day off the road in the South Coast Air Basin, according to the Los Angeles port authority. Data collection and analysis to track energy efficiency improvements and cost savings will take place over the next two years, according to the port authority.
Pasha and Port of Los Angeles officials were scheduled to visit Washington at the end of June to pursue funding opportunities for the second phase of the project, Burgin said.
Phase Two would encompass the storage system for the solar energy and upgrading two wharf cranes with new electric flywheel drives that can regenerate energy.
The Department of Energy has a small grant program available for micro-grid design and other federal programs might also be tapped.
Burgin said Phase Three is undetermined at this point, but likely would involve implementation of lessons learned from the initial development phases.
Asked how Pasha, which provides automotive processing, stevedoring and freight forwarding services at several ports in Hawaii and the continental United States, benefits from taking the lead on such a project, Burgin said: “We’re an American company. We have to think beyond business sometimes.”
Long Beach Clean Air. Meanwhile, the Port of Long Beach is moving ahead to expand the use of a marine exhaust treatment system developed by Long Beach-based Advanced Environmental Group LLC (AEG).
In 2015, CARB certified AEG’s Advanced Maritime Emission Control System (AMECS), which employs a combination of catalytic reactors, scrubbers and diesel filters, as equivalent to plugging a ship into shore power when it comes to controlling particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.
The system underwent extensive testing for certain vessels and engine types, and is now used periodically by container lines, such as Mediterranean Shipping Co. and Hapag-Lloyd.
The Port of Long Beach is helping AEG pursue a Phase Two-demonstration for non-container vessels, which tend to have older engines with different designs.
AEG hopes to get CARB approval for the pilot project by late June and complete testing on various types of vessels by the end of September, owner Ruben Garcia said.
CARB has proposed a strategy in its Sustainable Freight Action Plan for possibly expanding the at-berth emissions-reduction rule to other portions of the maritime fleet and might try to implement it in the next couple years, he said.
“So, we want to be prepared to have those alternative technologies to capture those emissions because the current cold-ironing (an industry term for running vessels on shore power) hookups at container terminals are not feasible. It’s just not cost effective to retrofit those vessels or invest in technology at those terminals,” Rick Cameron, managing director of planning and environmental affairs for the Port of Long Beach, said in an interview.
Plus, the alliance restructuring within the container industry has made emissions compliance more challenging because carriers are intermixing a lot of vessels that previously operated in other trade lanes and don’t have the onboard electric infrastructure. The barge-mounted, emission-capture system provides them more flexibility for complying, Cameron added.
AEG, with the help of some carriers and government grants, is in the process of modifying four barges to house its emission-control system so it can provide more consistent service. One of the units will be deployed at the Port of Oakland, Garcia said.
The company also plans to build land-based systems for use at oil terminals after first testing the system on a bulk vessel offloading oil. AMECS on barges will be used to treat emissions from oil tankers at anchor, he said.
“I think what you are going to see is some facilities that would rather contract out barge-based service and not have the responsibility of a land-based system. But over time, some facilities may want to purchase a system,” especially non-container ones, Cameron said.
The Long Beach port official praised Pasha’s demonstration project across San Pedro Bay, saying, “I think it will be something good for everybody to learn from.”
He added that some technologies, such as electric cargo-handling equipment, are also being deployed now at Long Beach’s ultra-modern Middle Harbor Terminal.