Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Ports Move Forward on Emissions-Reduction Plans


May 1, 2019

The Hapag-Lloyd cargo ship Dallas Express undergoes shore power testing at the Port of Oakland. Photo courtesy of the Port of Oakland.

To reduce air pollution, major ports on the west coast have incentivized the use of zero- and near-zero-emission cargo-handling equipment and have made clean energy part of their plans to modernize marine terminals.

State and local government bodies have supported many of these initiatives through grants. The Port of Los Angeles, for example, is involved in more than 15 demonstrations of near-zero and zero-emission equipment that leverage more than $80 million in grant funding, according to Phillip Sanfield, the port's director of media relations.

The San Pedro Bay ports have partnered directly with operators to obtain funding for new equipment, in order to meet their Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) goals. Feasibility studies could help achieve these goals as well. Other large ports, including Oakland and San Diego, are taking similar measures that align with their own emissions-reduction plans.

Pacific Northwest ports also have a clean-air strategy, and the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) has rolled out a corresponding clean trucks plan that went into effect this year.


Using 2005 as a baseline, the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy aims to reduce diesel particulate emissions per ton of cargo by 80 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent before 2020.

To help achieve these goals, NWSA plans to outfit 80 percent of its cargo-handling equipment, from straddle carriers to yard tractors, with EPA Tier 4-certified engines or better by 2020, according to Nick Demerce, director of public affairs for NWSA.

A Clean Trucks Program, part of the effort to reduce diesel emissions, launched on Jan. 1 at international terminals in the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

"The standard that we put in place was basically 2007 or newer model year for all of our international container terminals, and the reason is that those trucks, the 2007 or newer, are 90 percent more efficient from a pollution standpoint than previous models," Demerce said.

He also explained NWSA's efforts to expand shore power, as part of an ongoing plan to redevelop and modernize Terminal 5, in Seattle.

The terminal will contain two berths, and "the plan is to have shore power at both berths. I would say generally shore power is something that we are keenly interested in and will deploy wherever it makes sense," Demerce said.


Mike Zampa, communications director for the Port of Oakland, said in March that he expects the board of port commissioners to adopt a 2020 and Beyond Plan for air quality in the first half of this year. The port has published a draft of the plan, which includes promoting zero-emission equipment to meet state greenhouse gas targets for 2030 and 2050.

On March 5, Oakland International Container Terminal began using its first hybrid yard crane, as part of a project to retrofit 13 diesel-powered cranes. The $6 million project, funded largely by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, will result in an estimated 45-ton reduction in diesel-related air pollutants, according to press releases from the Port of Oakland. Twelve more retrofitted cranes will come online by 2020.

The March deployment of a battery-electric yard tractor at Impact Transportation's warehouse leveraged funding from California's Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). The program offers discounts of up to $165,000 per electric truck, according to the website Green Car Congress.

Oakland has also become one of several California seaports to receive a chunk of the $205 million in grant funding California Air Resources Board (CARB) awarded in September to accelerate adoption of clean freight technologies throughout the state. An anticipated $9 million will provide Shippers Transport Express with 10 battery-powered, over-the-road trucks, while Matson Terminal will get five battery-powered yard trucks.

The Port of Oakland itself plans to invest $2 million to construct battery-charging stations for trucks at Shippers Transport Express, a spokesperson for the port confirmed.

San Diego

For the past four years, Port of San Diego has worked with the California Energy Commission (CEC)-Ports Energy Collaborative to meet its Climate Action Plan goals.

Thanks to grants from CEC, "tenants and operators serving our marine terminals are using all-electric drayage trucks, yard tractors, and forklifts. Grant opportunities such as these have been indispensable to help our tenants build confidence in the technologies to perform their day-to-day operations," said Brianne Page, a spokeswoman for the Port of San Diego.

Currently, port staff are introducing tenants to further funding opportunities and hosting information exchanges with local air quality regulators, Page added.

"The San Diego Air Pollution Control District will be administering approximately $19M this year to help businesses convert traditionally diesel-powered vehicles and equipment to lower-emissions and zero-emissions technologies," she said in an email.

The port has also partnered with CEC for redevelopment of the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, one of its two cargo terminals. According to a press release, CEC and the Port of San Diego are funding the installation of a solar-powered microgrid, to enable the operation of critical infrastructure at the Tenth Avenue terminal. The goal is to install the grid by summer of 2020, Page confirmed.

San Pedro Bay

The CAAP plan, updated in 2017 by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, has led to technology demonstration projects, feasibility studies and green truck initiatives in the San Pedro Bay. It has laid out goals of achieving zero emissions for cargo-handling equipment and drayage trucks by 2030 and 2035, respectively.

The need to achieve greater reductions in nitrogen oxide (NOx) and greenhouse gas emissions, while continuing previous progress with diesel and sulphur oxide (SOx) reductions "is why our boards adopted the aggressive goals for cargo handling equipment by 2030 and zero emissions for drayage trucks by 2035," said Matthew Arms, acting director of environmental planning for the Port of Long Beach.

Grant money has funded demonstration projects and feasibility studies for trucks and cargo-handling equipment at both ports. The Port of Long Beach has obtained about $70 million in CEC and CARB funding since the CAAP update, according to Arms.

With this money, Long Beach is also developing charging infrastructure, which doesn't yet exist on a wide scale.

"What we're focused on through these different demonstration projects is bringing this equipment into the terminal, developing charging infrastructure, putting that into the terminal and then demonstrating the equipment to help drive it towards commercialization," Arms added.

All in all, grants are financing over 80 pieces of equipment that will be tested and built at Long Beach terminals in the next year, he also said.

The $80 million in grant funding Port of Los Angeles has received is financing demonstrations of several types of equipment, including 20 near-zero-emission and eight zero-emission yard tractors at the Everport terminal. Wireless charging will also be provided for yard tractors, according to Tim DeMoss, the port's air quality manager.

CARB funding announced in September will help Los Angeles deploy 10 fuel-cell trucks, two fuel-cell yard tractors and two hydrogen fueling stations.

Many of these grants are obtained through partnerships between the ports and their tenants.

"That really offsets a lot of that gap between what they would be paying for traditional equipment and the increased price of the new equipment, and it also helps alleviate some of that risk for them," DeMoss said.

Both San Pedro Bay ports are looking to incentivize the purchase of drayage trucks in particular. Under a preliminary plan DeMoss described, operators at the Port of Los Angeles would be able to receive money for half the cost of a near-zero-emission truck, or about $100,000. Funding from both ports, CEC and South Coast Air Quality Management District would make the plan possible.

"In 2023 we will only allow near-zero-emission trucks to sign up in the port's drayage truck registry, and so that will continue to ensure that the fleet gets cleaner over time," DeMoss said.

Given current costs and lack of commercialization, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have agreed to jointly publish feasibility studies on trucks and cargo-handling equipment every two years. Studies will provide an overview of existing technology and an assessment of commercial availability.

Trucks wait at the Pier T gate, in the Port of Long Beach. The port plans to move toward zero emissions for drayage trucks by the year 2035. Photo courtesy of the Port of Long Beach.

A feasibility study on drayage trucks published in April, while a draft study on cargo-handling equipment was scheduled to publish this spring, according to Arms.

By June, the Port of Long Beach is also releasing its Port Community Electric Vehicle Blueprint, "a high-level first-step study" that lays out how the port will achieve zero emissions.

"It's our document, but the idea is other ports, including LA or Port of San Diego or Oakland hopefully can take it and adapt it for their own use," Arms also said.

In the next decade or more, feasibility studies will help America's two largest ports achieve the zero-emissions goals of their mutual CAAP plan.

Once feasibility is demonstrated, "we will start requiring (new equipment) through leases and try to incentivize and work with the agencies once again to get more funding to help the terminal operators turn over their equipment to this more expensive, but much cleaner zero-emission equipment," DeMoss said.


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