hybrid cranes

Port of Oakland’s marine terminal slashes emissions with electric cranes

The Port of Oakland’s largest marine terminal Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) has cut diesel emissions from 13 of its massive yard cranes by 95 percent after retrofitting them with hybrid-electric engines. 

Image courtesy: Port of Oakland

Terminal operator Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) said that the project will eliminate about 1,200 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually from each crane.

“Retrofitting our rubber-tire gantry cranes to battery power produced remarkable results,” said Crane Manager Ken Larson, at SSA Marine’s OICT.

“We’re impressed with the huge drop in emissions from equipment that we regularly use on the marine terminal.”

SSA said that the clean air project would result in a 93 percent reduction in diesel fuel. The older engines used 10 to 13 gallons of diesel fuel an hour whereas the hybrids use about three-quarters of a gallon an hour, according to Larson.

In the first project of its type at the terminal, SSA replaced 1,000-horsepower diesel generators on its yard cranes with 142-horsepower diesel hybrids.

The new power plants have small diesel engines used only to charge a crane’s pack of batteries. Each crane has a housing unit that contains the hybrid generator.

 Larson said that the project was challenging, including the construction of new electrical systems for input power protection when converting current from AC to DC on a crane.

As explained, the hybrid generators capture energy as a container is lowered, and have a better performance than the older diesel generators because there is no delay in power delivery to the crane.

Combined, the thirteen 90-foot-tall cranes can lift as many as 1,000 containers a day on and off trucks at OICT.

The project to replace 13 diesel-powered rubber-tire gantry crane engines with Tier 4 Final hybrid engine was supported by the Air District $5 million in grant funding as part of the Air District’s Community Health Protection Program (CHP – AB134).

The first crane was retrofitted in February of 2019 and the 13th crane was converted in July 2020.

The project was part of the Port’s Seaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan.