green and sustainable business

Tankers on shore power at Long Beach

with 4 comments

lbshorepowerSlow change is better than no change: BP America and the Port of Long Beach Wednesday opened the world’s first oil tanker terminal equipped with shore power plugs.

A major source of air pollution in port areas comes from the giant vessels that tie up at their docks to load and unload cargo. That’s because the powerful diesel engines have to run continuously to keep the ships’ equipment and support systems operating. That also means continuous spewing of ghg and diesel particulate emissions into the local air.

A solution to this massive emissions problem has long existed but is not widely implemented because of the expensive modifications required for on-ship and offshore facilities. It’s called shore power, which allows ships to shut down their diesel engines at berth and literally plug into the landside electricity grid, thus vastly improving air quality.

The BP terminal on Pier T is actually Long Beach’s second dock equipped with shore power, but it’s the first such facility in the world for “liquid bulk” ships — vessels that transport large amounts of petroleum and related fuels.

Reducing air pollution is a major component of the port’s Green Port Policy, adopted in 2005. Also this week Long Beach issued a call for ideas to implement a zero-emission container movement system.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, along with the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority are seeking new technology to move cargo containers between docks and the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility near West Long Beach, potentially eliminating thousands of short-haul diesel truck trips each day and reducing air pollution.

Proposed technologies might include electric guideways, zero-emission trucks, or electrified rail, all of which use electricity to power the movement of cargo, rather than diesel-fueled trucks.

Shore power, also known as “cold-ironing,” allows a specially equipped vessel to plug in at berth. The vessel can then draw power for its pumps, communications, ventilation, lighting and other needs from Southern California Edison, instead of its own diesel engines.

Providing shore power to an off-loading oil tanker is the pollution-reducing equivalent of removing 187,000 cars from the road for a day. In a year, shore power will eliminate more than 30 tons of pollution.

BP’s shore power installation delivers enough electricity to power about 5,500 homes — up to 8 megawatts at 6,660 volts. The Alaska Tanker Company has equipped two vessels that regularly visit the port to be able to plug into the BP Terminal on Pier T, which supplies local refineries with crude oil. The joint project was completed at a cost of $23.7 million: $17.5 million from the port and $6.2 million from BP.


Written by William DiBenedetto

3 June, 2009 at 6:15 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I really like your post. Does it copyright protected?

    Kelly Brown

    12 June, 2009 at 4:39 pm

  2. Great post! I’ll subscribe right now wth my feedreader software!


    14 June, 2009 at 11:26 pm

  3. When I was advising a military port facility on power procurement issues, we had almost the opposite problem. Ships were only in port for a short time but added a significant percentage to the peak power demand of the port when they plugged in. If this happened on a peak day, it could have a major impact on the facility’s demand charges for the whole year. However, when I suggested that on hot days the ships run on their own power, I was told that the capatains would never accept this as it would prevent some crew members from having an opportunity at shore leave.


    18 June, 2009 at 11:17 am

    • You raise an interesting point, and perhaps another reason why shore power is not more widespread. I don’t think the peak power drain issue has come up, or been publicly discussed.


      18 June, 2009 at 1:29 pm

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