Port of Oakland has revealed plans to intensify efforts to curb diesel emissions by plugging more vessels into shore power, the practice of plugging ships into landside power grids.
By using shore power, also known as cold ironing, vessels can switch off their diesel engines while at berth.
“If there are ways to strengthen our Port electrical infrastructure to promote more use of electrical power from our grid, we will do it,” said the port’s Executive Director, Chris Lytle. “We will collaborate with shipping lines and the marine terminal operators here in Oakland to build on the progress we’ve already made.”
According to port data, more than 70% of all ships visiting Oakland rely on shore power. That’s in line with existing rules governing California seaports. However, state regulators indicate they may increase the requirement in the coming decade.
To prepare, Mr. Lytle said Oakland is taking inventory of roadblocks to shore power use. The challenges can range from ill-equipped ships to not enough electrical vaults at the dock. The authorities are trying to identify why every single vessel that enters the port can’t plug in.
The Executive Director said Oakland is considering a number of enhancements to increase shore power use, including:
Additional landside electrical vaults;
More substations to increase the power supply; and
Standardized procedures to ease the plug-in process for vessel crews.
Shore power has helped Oakland reduce diesel emissions by 75% in the last years. The port has already minimized truck diesel emissions by 98%, so the real challenge now is on the vessel side.
The shore power program began in 2012 and the Port has spent $60 million building the infrastructure to plug in ships, with financial assistance from federal, state and local partners.