Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports Team Up With Maersk to Track Emissions and Energy Efficiency of Ships

Photo credit: Port of Long Beach
Photo credit: Port of Long Beach

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has teamed up with container shipping giant Maersk on a new project that aims to track vessel emissions and energy efficiency of ships calling at the San Pedro Bay port complex.

The project, which will span three years, builds on a $125 million investment by Maersk Line to upgrade 12 containerships as part of its “radical retrofit” program to reduce fuel consumption and increase capacity of vessels regularly calling at the ports.

The two ports are contributing a combined $1 million to install real-time tracking systems that represent an industry-leading application to pinpoint vessel emissions while ships are at sea and at berth.

“This project is a vivid example of the deep commitment to environmental sustainability that we have grown to expect from our goods movement partners, as we all work together to create a healthier planet,” said Port of Long Beach Interim CEO Duane Kenagy. “We’re pleased to be a part of this project, and we hope it will serve as a model to encourage even more progress and creativity in emissions reductions from ocean-going vessels.”

“Maersk Line’s extraordinary commitment to cleaner, more efficient vessel operations represents a quantum leap in the environmental progress of our entire industry,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “We applaud Maersk Line for its leadership and innovation, and we are eager to do our part to advance fundamental change that will result in cleaner air for our surrounding communities and around the world.”

The project will continuously record how much fuel each engine uses in conjunction with speed, engine power, weather and other operational variables through use of mass flow meters and an interface to the on-board Integrated Control System to capture performance data. Information will be uploaded to Maersk Line servers via satellite, and each ship will be able to communicate in real-time with Maersk Line’s Global Vessel Performance Centre to increase operational efficiency.

“This is the equivalent of strapping a Fitbit onto a large container ship,” said Dr. Lee Kindberg, Director of Environment and Sustainability for Maersk Line. “We’ll be tracking vessel performance and emissions 24/7. This advances our ability to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants on a global scale.”

Under its “radical retrofit” program, Maersk Line upgraded vessels that already plug into shore power at the San Pedro Bay ports. The additional improvements include redesigning the bulbous bow of each vessel, replacing existing propellers with more efficient models, and “derating” the main engines to make them more efficient at lower speeds.

The retrofit program also involved raising the bridge of the ships to increase each vessel’s capacity from about 9,500 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) to about 11,000 TEUs. This allows Maersk Line to carry more containers per vessel while decreasing their environmental impact per container moved.

The energy efficiency makeover is expected to decrease each ship’s fuel consumption by more than 10 percent, saving an estimated 10,000 metric tons of fuel on an annual basis. This would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an estimated 31,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year and lead to similar reductions of diesel particulate matter (DPM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx). 

The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are the two largest ports in the nation, first and second respectively, and combined are the ninth-largest port complex in the world.

Since 2007, Maersk Line has reduced GHG emissions associated with its vessel operations by 42 percent on a per container, per kilometer basis. The retrofits and TAP demonstration project with the San Pedro Bay ports will help Maersk Line reach its goal of a 60 percent reduction of CO2 and other pollutants by 2020.