Port of Los Angeles Microgrid Project Nears Finish Line

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A $27 million microgrid and distributed clean energy project at the Port of Los Angeles — the first in the city to include solar and energy storage — is now 60 percent complete.


Port of Los Angeles. By South Bay Lee/Shutterstock.com

When finished in the fall, the Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project is expected to serve as a model for modernization of 26 other marine terminals at the port.

The microgrid will incorporate a 1-MW solar photovoltaic array, an on-shore 2.6-MWh battery storage system, and associated electrical infrastructure. Siemens is supplying its SICAM microgrid controller for the project.

Notable features of the demonstration project include heavy-duty electric drayage trucks, yard tractors and high-power electric vehicle chargers. The project also includes a next-generation ShoreKat emissions capture and filtering system, a significant feature because berthed ships are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants at marine ports worldwide, according to Burns McDonnell.

First mover challenges

Jeffrey Burgin, senior vice president of Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals, the terminal operator, described the project as a “Wright Brothers moment” upon its launch at the end of May 2016.

But being a pioneer brings with it challenges, particularly because standards and processes are just being developed using the project as a case study, according to Matt Wartian, the Burns McDonnell engineer now leading the project for Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals.

It has taken longer than expected to obtain required permits from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS), the Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power and the Los Angeles Harbor Department, for instance.

Similarly, it has taken manufacturers longer than expected to obtain independent, UL certifications for microgrid and demonstration project system components that have yet to be introduced commercially. That includes the project’s battery energy storage systems, electric vehicle chargers and microgrid controller, Wartian told Microgrid Knowledge.

“We are still working with the manufacturers to obtain third-party certification for the battery storage system and the electric vehicle chargers,” Wartian said. “This is a requirement of LADBS prior to powering those components of the system.”

These factors contributed to delays; the project was originally slated for commissioning last summer. Instead, construction began in November.

Microgrid and project milestones

“We have completed the majority of the structural and electrical infrastructure upgrades to the terminal, including installation of the foundations, chargers, new switchgear, transformers, microgrid controller, and electric vehicle chargers,” Wartian said. “Additionally, the warehouse where the solar PV system will be installed has been re-roofed and structural upgrades have been completed. We have also received four electric yard tractors, one drayage truck, and the components of the ShoreKat emissions treatment system.”

Construction milestones yet to be achieved include installation of the solar PV system, permanent installation of the battery storage systems, and commissioning of the microgrid and EV chargers.

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“Other project milestones to be completed include the delivery of one additional drayage truck and three forklifts, and commissioning and demonstration of the ShoreKat system. The vehicles and treatment system will be demonstrated for a period of one year,” he said.

The microgrid will have island mode capabilities, so it will be able to disconnect from the utility grid and continue to supply power to the facility during grid outages. Chargers will convert DC power produced by microgrid assets to the AC power needed to power electrical equipment drives and motors, as well as vehicles. 

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