How To Make Going Green Sustainable
As ports push forward with zero-emission investments they are beginning to show that being sustainable doesn’t have to come at an economic cost.
One example of this is the Port of Hueneme in California, which secured financial partners for its US$14m shoreside power system within two years to enabled refrigerated vessels to plug in.
On the subject of whether ports can be profitable and sustainable at the same time, port director Kristin Decas, told Port Strategy: “I think we have a proven track record there. From 2012 we built investment in our shoreside power, which was a $$40m construction project. At that time, we only had about US$4m in unrestricted funds in our reserves so we had to build this US$14m system.”
Ms Decas, who joined the port as director in 2012 and has led its funding efforts, explained the port had to be resourceful in finding an array of partners to realise its ambition.
Funding for the port, owned and operated by Oxnard Harbor District, has come from sources including the the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA); the California Air Resources Board, which provided a US$4.5m dollar grant; Ventura County Transportation Commission; the Ventura Air Quality Control District, which provided US$250,000 for engineering; plus new markets tax credits, a tax incentive through green job funding, through the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
“We were able to able to put all that funding together, as well as tap our reserves and we were able to build it by 2014 and go live,” Ms Decas explained. “Since that time, 2012, we’ve also grown our business by 23%, so we’ve made our largest investment in environmental infrastructure, while at the same time growing our business portfolio.”
Following the Phase I launch of the Shore Power system in April 2014, the second phase was launched in July 2016.
Ship to shore
In October 2018, the port secured a US$3m grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to spend on its zero-emission ship to shore project. The project was part of a joint application with the Port of Los Angeles for the California state Zero- and Near Zero- Emission Freight Facilities project (ZANZEFF) grant solicitation funded through California’s Cap and Trade dollars initiative.
With the aim of providing zero emission avocados to Ventura County and the State, the project will enable avocados at the port’s docks to be offloaded with electrical equipment from a vessel that’s plugged in to shoreside power and then moved to distribution with a hydrogen fuel cell truck
The port confirmed in April 2019 that it had hired an environmental engineer to help build the infrastructure that will support the electrical equipment, to include electric cranes and electric cargo handling equipment. This will be purchased with a grant in the third quarter of 2020.
Hydrogen fuel cell trucks being developed by Toyota and Kenworth as part of the ZANZEFF project, will also form part of Hueneme’s ship to shore supply chain.
Comprising the Kenworth T680 Class 8 model combined with Toyota’s fuel cell electric technology, the 10 trucks will move cargo from the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports and the Port of Hueneme. Testing is currently taking place.
Given that ports in California are obliged to adhere to strict regulations set out by CARB and carrying out innovative environmental initiatives, does Ms Decas think that it is helpful for ports to work together and is there scope for ports to learn from each other?
“I’m currently president of the California Association of Port Authorities, which sees all 11 ports working together, collaborating. We tackle challenges and we capitalise on opportunities,” she said.
She explained that the association has subcommittees, one of which is environmentally focussed. Conference calls take place once a month to look at challenges including shoreside power and how the ports can solve challenges and work with local regulators.
“I think all the ports want to grow and not only this but to work towards zero emissions but we have to do that in a way that is realistic. The technology has to exist to green our operations and we also have the challenge of funding – how are we going to pay for this? At the end of the day the ports do collectively want to move towards a zero-emission footprint.”
In tacking the issue of cost being a barrier to green technology, testing and rolling out technology slowly to see the value of investments and making decisions based on budget seem comprehensive solutions.
“There’s an expression in our world, that once you’ve seen a port, you’ve seen a port. Meaning we’re all unique and have our different characteristics, “ commented Ms Decas. “There isn’t a one size fits all technology. It makes sense to have Technologies that are certified by the IMO so that they will work globally. That’s what we did with our shoreside power system, we made the connections certified by the IMO so that if other ports go live with shoreside power, our system will work at their port. it’s important to have some uniformity.
“But to get the biggest bang for your buck in reducing emissions at individual ports you need to look at the technology advances that are ideal for that particular complex, make sure it is viable and how you fund it.”
Environmental investment has to coordinate with other port development plans, Ms Decas pointed out. While Hueneme’s shoreside power is being utilised by reefer ships currently, these vessels are being phased out in favour of a move towards containerisation and mega ships. This ties in with the port’s project to deepen the harbour from 35-40ft to accommodate the size of these vessels.
“The port has traditionally been a reefer port with and big breakbulk coming in for the fruit segment of what we do and the reefer ships are really becoming dinosaurs,” stressed Ms Decas. “They’re not building them anymore. What we’re seeing is a trend towards containerisation, bigger and bigger ships that are moving freight on containers. We need to rethink how we do business here and containerise our port, at the same time without comprising other important segments of business.”
Source: Port Stategy