California port invests in solar microgrid

Port of San Diego A renewable, solar-powered microgrid will be used to help power operations at the Port of San Diego's Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. Credit: Port of San Diego
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The Port of San Diego will undertake infrastructure improvements to support installation of a renewable, solar-powered microgrid at its Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

Anticipated to be installed by summer 2020, the solar photovoltaic panels will power the microgrid, which will also include battery energy storage, energy efficiency improvements, electrical infrastructure improvements, and a centralized microgrid controller. The microgrid will provide back-up power to port-operated facilities, including security infrastructure, lights, offices, and the existing jet fuel storage system.

“The Microgrid Project will not only help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, it will also make us more resilient in the event of natural or human-caused disasters that impact the electric grid. With the added bonus of reducing energy costs, this project is good for the community, for businesses on the terminal, and for the Port,” said chairman Garry Bonelli, board of port commissioners.

Long-term strategy

Renewable energy forms a part of the ‘exhaust emissions reduction program’ at the terminal, as identified in the port’s Environmental Impact Report for the terminal’s redevelopment plan. The microgrid will help the port meet the emissions reduction goals in its 2013 Climate Action Plan; improve air quality by advancing electrification powered by solar energy; save the port an estimated US$168,000, or 60%, per year over current utility rates; and enable the operation of critical terminal infrastructure for approximately 12 hours without being connected to the larger electrical grid.

The infrastructure improvements at the terminal will see Chambers, Inc. replace the roof of warehouse B. The work includes removal of the existing multiple-ply, built-up roof system and installation of a new, lighter and more durable single-ply Thermoplastic Polyolefin membrane roof system. The work is due to be completed by December.

The US$9,600,000 microgrid project is being funded through a grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

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