Friday, May 27, 2011

APL is First to Plug Into Landside Power at Oakland Port

With the implementation date for California air regulations requiring ship-to-shore power for container vessels calling at the state's major ports rapidly approaching, port authorities throughout the state are all moving forward with major efforts to electrify their docks.

On Thursday, the Singapore-based APL became the first ocean carrier to plug into a ship-to-shore system at the Port of Oakland.

Ship-to-shore systems allow vessels to plug into the landside power grid while at berth. Called "cold-ironing," this allows vessels to use the landside electricity to power systems aboard the vessel normally powered by onboard diesel-powered auxiliary engines. Shutting off the auxiliary engines allows vessels to dramatically cut their per call emissions at the port: approximately 1,000 pounds of smog-forming nitrogen oxides emissions, 165 pounds of sulfur oxides, and 30 pounds of particulate matter can be eliminated in a 24-hour port call.

On Thursday, the 900-foot-long APL Singapore berthed at APL’s Global Gateway Central terminal, plugged into the dock's ship-to-shore system and switched off its auxiliary engines. According to port officials, it was the official launch of an APL program to have five vessels cold-ironing this year in the transpacific trade between Asia and the US.

APL has spent $11 million to retrofit the five container vessels and re-wire its Oakland terminal with a ship-to-shore system. It was awarded $4.8 million in California Air Resources Board grants by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to complete the project.

"We have brought cold-ironing to the port," APL Americas President Gene Seroka said. "When others do as well, we can further reduce vessel emissions and re-enforce that global trade growth is sustainable."

APL predicts that cold-ironing can eradicate 50,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides emissions from its ships annually in Oakland. Emissions of particulate matter should also drop by 1,500 pounds a year.

California air regulations mandating cold-ironing for container ships are set to take effect in 2014. At that time, half of an ocean carrier’s fleet must rely on shore power when berthed in California ports. APL is one of only a handful of carriers currently cold-ironing in California, and the only one in Oakland.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles already have several ship-to-shore systems in place, with plans to rapidly expand the availability throughout both ports by 2014. Other ports, such as the Port of Hueneme, are also moving forward with plans to install ship-to-shore systems.