The Southern California sister ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are taking similar, but different, approaches to encourage the use of cleaner ships by ocean carriers.
Vessels with engines made to the highest emissions standards will be eligible for rewards of up to $6,000 per visit at the Port of Long Beach as part of an ongoing effort to reduce air pollution, the port announced last week.
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the creation of a Green Ship Award program that offers vessel operators incentives for deploying ships with modern engine technology. Under the new Green Ship program, vessels with main engines meeting Tier 2 or Tier 3 standards established by the International Maritime Organization will be eligible for berthing discounts ranging from $2,500 to $6,000 per ship call.
The program is aimed at reducing smog-forming nitrogen oxides, which can effect respiratory health. Tier 2 engines cut NOx emissions by 15 percent and Tier 3 engines reduce NOx by 80 percent.
Tier 2 engines were introduced beginning in 2011, and Tier 3 engines will be introduced in 2016. The Green Ship program’s goal is to have 50 percent of all ship calls at the Port of Long Beach be from Tier 2 vessels, and 40 percent from Tier 3 by 2023, which would reduce NOx emissions from ships by 2,700 tons a year.
The program is similar to the voluntary vessel speed reduction program introduced in 2005 that rewards vessel operators for slowing down to 12 knots or less within 40 nautical miles of the port. More than 95 percent of commercial cargo vessels now participate in the Green Flag program.
The Port of Los Angeles in early May approved a new incentive program, effective July 1, for reducing harmful vessel emissions that was developed by the International Association of Ports and Harbors. The Environmental Ship Index (ESI) is a web-based scorecard that ports can use to rate and reward vessels for engine, fuel and technology enhancements used to exceed IMO standards for emissions of NOx, sulfur oxides, diesel particulate matter and greenhouse gases. The scorecard can be tailored to fit a port's operation and regional requirements.
Vessel operators can earn incentives from $250 to $5,250 per vessel call by meeting one or all of three requirements:
- Scoring 30 or more ESI points based on an engine's vessel specifications and emissions certification; and use of low-sulfur fuel, plug-in ready connections for shore-based power and a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan.
- Deploying ships with Tier 2 or Tier 3 engines.
- Participating in a demonstration program to test and improve vessel emission reduction technology.
Incentives are on a sliding scale and will be paid quarterly, with the first distribution scheduled for September. For the first six months, ships can qualify for $250 with a score of 25, the Port of Los Angeles said. The lower score is designed to encourage early participation and help operators familiarize themselves with the ESI Website
and reporting requirements. Afterwards, a score of 30-34 points will earn $750 in credits. A score above 40 will earn $1,250 and up. Vessel operators must register
for the program.
The Port of Los Angeles has budgeted $450,000 to launch the program.
Several European ports are using the ESI, but Los Angeles is the first port in North America or the Pacific Rim to sign on.
"The ESI sets the gold standard for green shipping and we encourage other ports to follow suit," L.A. Port Director Geraldine Knatz said in a written statement. "The larger success of this program lies in its adoption by as many ports as possible to increase the rewards for operators willing to invest in clean air and maximize the health benefits for everyone."
The Port of Los Angeles anticipates up to 30 percent of ships calling the port to qualify for the ESI incentives at the outset. That participation rate would reduce diesel particulate emissions by 16 tons in the first year.
Vessels are the largest source of air pollution from port-related operations. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have clean air programs that also target emission reductions from trucks, locomotives, cargo-handling equipment and other vehicles. The ports have reduced diesel emissions by about 70 percent during the past five years, but are taking environmental initiatives to the next level to protect local communities and future growth opportunities.
By 2014, California law will require vessels to use low-sulfur fuel in main and auxiliary engines within 24 miles of the coast. The same standard of 0.1 percent sulfur content goes in effect for all of North America in 2015 under an international agreement. The Port of Los Angeles says it will raise the bar above those baseline standards for ships to qualify for the ESI incentives.
The port will hold an informational ESI workshop for shipping lines this month.
As part of their clean air initiatives both ports in San Pedro Bay are building on-dock electrification stations that will enable ships to run onboard systems while at berth without using auxiliary engines. The Port of Long Beach is expected to supply shore power at all six container terminals by 2014, spokesman Art Wong said. Two terminals already have alternative marine power available.
The Harbor Commission recently awarded three contracts totaling $57.1 million to construct shore power at three more terminals, he said. - Eric Kulisch