Ships in Port

Ships at berth at the Port of Long Beach. Photo: Port of Long Beach

Collaboration with China will drive California’s energy policies more than any other relationship in the world, allowing the two regions to “hold hands” and reduce global greenhouse gases, the California Energy Commission said at its July 15 business meeting.

California energy officials described a trip they took in June to spend two weeks with Chinese counterparts and discuss energy policies and partnership opportunities that could help both governments reduce greenhouse gases.

“There is an enormous amount we can do together,” CEC Chair David Hochschild said. “This relationship with China, from a climate-change perspective, is the most important in the world.”

“The Chinese counterparts that we met with took this very seriously,” Fan Dai, a special advisor with the California Environmental Protection Agency, said. “This was the first state delegation since Gov. Newsom took office.”

During the meetings, Chinese officials described ambitious, fast-moving initiatives in the country, such as converting diesel-fuel equipment to electricity at its large shipping ports.

The Port of Shanghai will switch its cranes from diesel to electric and create an electric automated container terminal. The port has about six times more trade activity today than it did in 2001 and must provide all of its ships with onshore power by 2022, port representatives told California regulators. The port will be the first in China to require 100 percent onshore power.

When berthed, ships require fuel to support activities such as loading, unloading, heating and lighting, the World Ports Climate Initiative said. This power is generally provided by auxiliary engines onboard ships that emit carbon and air pollutants, according to the WPCI.

As an alternative to onboard power generation, vessels can be hooked up to power supplies onshore, such as the local electricity grid. In December, the Chinese government released new regulations requiring onshore power supply at shipping ports. The government has been subsidizing construction of onshore power infrastructure and by 2020 plans to have about 500 onshore power options along the country’s coastline.

In 2017, the CEC provided a $9.7-million grant to the Port of Long Beach to transition its terminal equipment to zero emissions. With the funds, the port purchased 25 electric cargo-handling vehicles and 12 battery-electric yard tractors; replaced four liquefied natural gas trucks with hybrid-electric trucks; and converted nine diesel cranes to fully electric equipment.

Shipping currently causes 3 percent of global GHG emissions and more than 2 percent of global black-carbon emissions, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Port of Long Beach project is anticipated to reduce GHG emissions by about 1,300 tons and save more than 270,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. The CEC has provided the port with about $80 million in funding.

In 2015, California became the first state government to sign a memorandum of understanding with China’s government on the regulation of emissions. The accord supports the commercialization and deployment of clean and renewable energy technologies; adopts measures to promote energy efficiency in buildings and industries; advances smart grids and other programs to modernize grid infrastructure; and takes action to reduce transportation emissions.

“The grid in China is still very heavily on coal,” Dai said. “There is a high need to modernize their grid, so I do see this as potential for California to advance opportunities for our companies here.”

“As China weans itself off coal, building policies can play a fundamental role,” Commissioner Andrew McAllister said. “We [in California] are facing a very similar challenge as we get ever deeper into renewables penetration.”

He mentioned California Title 24, the CEC’s energy-efficiency requirements for new and existing buildings in the state.

“Title 24 is a huge lever we can use to get over there,” McAllister said. “China has a system that allows them to get to scale much more quickly than us. They don’t depend on the market fully, but then they support the market so that it can get there at a reasonable cost.”

At the meeting, the commission also approved the following projects:

  • Electric Bus Awards: A program to replace about 200 diesel school buses across the state with all-electric buses. The electric buses are estimated to eliminate about 57,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides and about 550 pounds of fine particulate matter 2.5 emissions annually (see CEM No. 1542 [11.1]). Award: about $70 million.
  • Lemoore Union High School District Solar Project: A 400-kW ground-mounted solar system that will provide electricity for Lemoore High School’s agricultural program. The solar system will serve on-site irrigation pumps, greenhouses and classroom operations, the CEC said. Award: $300,000.
  • Costamagna Farms Solar Project: A 1,100-kW solar system for six existing on-site electric irrigation pumps. The ground-mounted solar system will be located on six acres and will satisfy a quarter of the farm’s total electricity needs. Award: $300,000.

Electric Vehicle Fast-Charging Infrastructure Manufacturing Expansion Project: A grant to supply ChargePoint Inc. with new manufacturing equipment to build EV direct-current fast chargers at its existing manufacturing facility in Campbell, California. Award: $2 million.