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Port of Los Angeles to Be “Laboratory” for Renewable Energy

Starting this month, a 40-acre terminal at the Port of Los Angeles will serve as a test case for the use of renewable energy in a large industrial port facility. According to John Holmes, port operations consultant for Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals (Pasha), a privately held cargo-handling company, the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project will turn the terminal into an “industrial laboratory,” where renewable energy equipment and systems can be tested in the context of everyday operations.

“This is a Wright Brothers moment,” said Jeffrey Burgin, Senior Vice President of Pasha. “We’re going to be the proving ground to change the paradigm of how large industrial facilities can run on clean energy. We’re confident we can show this is absolutely attainable.”

The project to create the world’s first marine terminal able to generate all of its energy needs from renewable sources is part of the program California Climate Investments, which uses proceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade auctions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The projected results of the project when fully operational, according to port officials, will be to eliminate 3,200 tons of greenhouse gases, and almost 28 tons in diesel and other polluting emissions, per year. They calculate this as the equivalent of removing 14,100 cars from the road.

The final design and construction of the microgrid will occur this month. The system consists of a 1.03 megawatt photovoltaic rooftop array, a 2.6 megawatt-hour battery storage system, charging equipment that can receive as well as supply power, and an energy management control system. Officials admit that the microgrid would represent only a small slice of the total energy “pie” for the terminal, the rest of which would have to be provided by other no-emissions or low-emissions energy sources. The ultimate goal is to set up a back-up system to supply all of the terminal’s energy needs, which would allow operations to continue off-grid during an earthquake or other emergency. Other changes to be made include the installation of the ShoreCat system, which captures emissions for vessels that are unable to plug into shore power.

The project is estimated to cost $26.6 million over two and a half years, part of which will be paid by a California Air Resources Board (CARB) grant of $14.5 million, which is going towards the purchase of nine electric vehicles and the solar microgrid.

The Port of Los Angeles is located in the San Pedro section of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, near Wilmington, which is disproportionately impacted by industrial pollution. Said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols: “These innovative clean technologies will help clean the air in port-adjacent and disadvantaged communities, and are at the heart of California’s comprehensive effort to meet regional air quality and statewide climate goals.”


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