CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
September 21, 2019
Forward Thinking

Port of Oakland finds success with "electric avenue"

Facility reports rise in ships plugging into landside electric grid to reduce diesel emissions.

Ship at dock

When it comes to logistics tools that must be connected to the power grid, most people think of bar-code scanners, RFID readers, smartphones, and maybe even electric trucks. But operators at the Port of Oakland say they've seen a steady rise in something much larger plugging into their electric grid—cargo ships.

Oakland officials recently announced that 75 percent of the 1,543 ships that called at the port in 2018 used "shore power," meaning they cut their engines and used landside electrical power while docked at the facility. That was up from 68 percent the prior year. Port officials also said shore power use reached an all-time high of 82 percent in December—a number they're working to push even higher.

As for what's behind the push, it's all about curbing emissions and improving air quality. By switching to landside power to run systems ranging from lights to container refrigeration systems, ships reduce the amount of diesel particulate exhaust released into the atmosphere. State regulators require that shipping lines calling at California's six largest ports, including Oakland, plug in at least 70 percent of their vessels. The bar gets raised to 80 percent in 2020.

"Shore power is the most effective way we know to reduce vessel emissions," Port of Oakland Environmental Planner Catherine Mukai said in a statement. "We're pleased because the trends are positive."


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