The zero emissions container ship



Mark Sisson, senior port planner and analyst, and Krystle McBride, transportation analyst, AECOM, Oakland, CA, US



Air emissions from port activity have received a great deal of scrutiny in the past decade, especially in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach which are the largest two container ports in North America by far. Sources of emissions tend to be grouped into three broad categories: terminal handling equipment, trucks, and ships.

Electrification of terminal equipment coupled with the relatively quick turnover of equipment and sophisticated exhaust controls has greatly reduced emissions from this source. As part of their clean truck program, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, along with the trucking industry, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years to modernize the drayage truck fleet serving the port and reduce emissions. Research into further emissions reductions from switches to natural gas or electrification of drayage trucks has the potential to yield even larger reductions in the near future.

Ships have proven more difficult to modify in order to reduce emissions. At berth, they can be plugged into shore power to allow zero emission hotelling operations, but as soon as a ship sets sail, giant engines burning low grade bunker fuel spew out a great deal of emissions while the ship is still in port and near shore… 

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