LA to offset 'cold ironing' consumption with new solar system

Solar initiative to generate 10 megawatts of power as more ships plug into shoreside electricity.

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Updated on 06 Apr 2009 17:18 GMT

The port of Los Angeles aims to offset the electric power used by ships during 'cold ironing' with the installation of a new rooftop solar panel system at a cost of $9 million.

The environmentally-conscious port will begin generating one megawatt of electricity via 71,500 square feet of solar panels on its World Cruise Center rooftop by the end of 2009.

A $9 million construction contract was recently approved by the Board of Harbor Commissioners for this first phase of a multi-year solar power generation initiative. Three additional phases are expected to occur in within five years, ultimately generating 10 megawatts of power through 1.16 million square feet of solar panels.

Commenting on the project, Geraldine Knatz, Port Executive Director, said “As we continue to plug more ships into electric power and test electric applications of drayage trucks, hostlers and other cargo-handling assets, our air will be cleaner but our electricity consumption will grow.

“This initiative will help offset that power consumption, ultimately providing a power supply that is equivalent to the electricity consumption of roughly 2,500 homes,” Knatz added.

Plug-in shoreside power, also known as "cold-ironing," allows ships to shut down their auxiliary engines while the ship is docked, for a 100 percent reduction of air pollution at berth. Without shoreside electricity, vessels would use their own diesel-powered auxiliary engines to power refrigerated containers, pumps, lighting, air conditioning and computers while at dock.

In October 2008, Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and CleanAir Logix, Inc.(CAL) tested a liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fueled shore power supply system on the containership MOL Enterprise at the port of Los Angeles.

This was followed in November 2008, when the K Line container vessel Long Beach Bridge became the first ship at the Port of Long Beach to plug in to clean electrical power and shut down its diesel engines at berth.

The latest solar panel initiative is part of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Solar LA Program, the largest solar power project undertaken by any single city in the world. The Solar LA Project will ultimately create a 1.3 gigawatt solar power network of residential, commercial and municipally-owned solar systems that will lower Los Angeles’s dependence on greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels. In addition, future phases of the Port’s solar project will contribute toward the Mayor’s Green Initiative to use 20 percent renewable energy by 2010 and 35 percent by 2020.

The Port has been working closely with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to integrate future phases of LADWP’s solar power generation initiative. LADWP will also be assisting the Port with an expected $3.5 million up-front cash incentive as part of this first phase, the one megawatt project. Energy generated at the Port of Los Angeles will effectively flow back for use at Port facilities.

A recipient of numerous environmental awards, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2007 Clean Air Excellence Award, the Port of Los Angeles said it is committed to innovating cleaner, greener ways of doing business.