Improving energy and emission efficiency in port terminals



Michael Gaffney, Executive Vice President, Alaris Companies LLC, Petaluma, CA, USA


Energy consumption in port terminals can be a significant overhead cost for terminal operators. The cost of energy and the associated emissions are often viewed as a fixed condition that the terminal manager has little control over. This, however, is not correct. With the utilization of an Energy Management Program, these cost and emissions can be minimized. An initial reduction of 10 percent in energy cost and emissions is typical with minimal capital investment, plus payback in less than two years and more than 15 percent return on investment (ROI).

The importance of an Energy Management Program
Alaris has performed several energy assessments at terminals, from which we found common areas where efficiency could be increased. The most common shortfall was having an inadequate energy management program in place. It is difficult to manage something that is not accurately measured and monitored with a metrics developed on a per-unit basis to measure improvement by.

The typical components of an energy management program are:

  • Corporate Policy: A one- to two-page document that is easy to read and understand for all employees. It should simply state the goals and basic framework of the energy management program. It lets all employees know that energy and emissions are important at the executive management level.
  • Energy Management Plan: This document describes how the Corporate Policy is going to be achieved and complied with. There can be several Energy Management Plans, as different divisions within a corporation may have different requirements or operating policies.

Understanding electrical rate schedules
A terminal’s Energy Management Plan should firstly address the understanding of electrical rate schedules, i.e. how the terminal is charged for electricity, the total cost for each division and the total cost overall.

There are numerous factors that influence the cost of electricity and they vary by region and electrical provider. By managing these factors, it is possible to use the same amount of energy but at a much lower cost. Some of the variables that influence cost are: time of day of use; power factor penalties, ratcheting charges, kWh charges, fuel charges, delivery charges and which rate plan is selected.

Most of the management and maintenance staff we deal with during energy assessments don’t understand how the charges work and, as a result, additional fees and penalties are incurred unnecessarily.

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