As the state continues to push for a more environmentally sustainable economy, the Port of Long Beach remains steadfast in its mission to clean up operations. To that end, officials announced Thursday plans to construct a wind turbine staging and assembly facility within the port complex.
During his annual State of the Port address, Executive Director Mario Cordero announced the port’s Zero Emissions, Energy Resilient Operations Program, or ZEERO, which will invest in projects that will reduce impacts of operations and improve air quality.
“ZEERO is a major step forward,” Cordero said. “We are the first port to adopt a policy this far reaching.”
Part of the initiative is Pier Wind, which would be the largest facility specifically designed to accommodate assembly of offshore wind turbines at any U.S. seaport.
The project would help the state meet the California Energy Commission’s goals for offshore wind development. The port is spending $1 million to develop a conceptual design and construction assessment, which is expected to be completed in the spring, along with cost estimates.
The project would include creating up to 400 acres of new land for a terminal capable of handling heavy-lift crane operations. The area would be used to stage, store and construct the world’s largest floating offshore wind turbines, which would then be towed out to wind farms off the Central and Northern California coast.
“We are ready, willing and able to answer the call by the Biden-Harris administration for ways to increase sources of renewable energy,” Cordero said.
Port officials said Long Beach is an ideal location for such a project because it is adjacent to a deep and wide federal navigation channel, it is at the center of the nation’s supply chain, and it has access to the state’s largest manufacturing base and construction workforce, among other reasons.
The agency would seek state and federal loans and grants to pay for a portion of the project.
During his address, Cordero recounted numerous efforts by the port related to its move toward zero emissions by 2035. Last year, the port announced tens of millions of dollars in grants for electric trucks, channel deepening and the massive Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, among other projects.
“The evolution of cutting-edge technology to accomplish our stated goals is a process,” Cordero said, “one that necessitates vigorous collaboration with the private sector, our regulatory agencies and our relevant stakeholders.”
Today, 17% of cargo-handling equipment at the port is zero-emission, more than any port in the United States, according to Cordero. The truck fleet operating at the port, meanwhile, emits 37% less particulate matter compared to 2005, he said. Cargo-handling equipment and trains emit 92% and 53% less particulate matter, respectively.
The San Pedro Bay ports’ Clean Truck Fee kicked off in April and has already generated over $30 million that will be reinvested in newer, cleaner trucks and infrastructure. At its peak, the fee is expected to generate $90 million between the two ports.
Last year was the Port of Long Beach’s second-busiest on record in terms of containers handled. Dockworkers moved a total of 9,133,658 20-foot-equivalent units (the standard measure of a shipping container), about 250,000 TEUs short of its all-time record set the year before.
Despite a strong year, the port lost its ranking as the second-busiest container seaport in the U.S. to the Port of New York and New Jersey, which had a banner year, moving 9,493,664 TEUs. This was the first time in the port’s 101-year history that it moved over nine 9 million TEUs.
Cordero congratulated the East Coast port during his remarks. He did, however, point out that the San Pedro Bay port complex, which includes the Port of Los Angeles, remains the top container gateway into the U.S. Having moved 1.5 million TEUs of loaded exports last year, Cordero also noted the Port of Long Beach was the top exporter for the second year in a row.
“Cargo volume is not the sole metric of success for the Port of Long Beach,” Cordero said. “Rather, how we serve our customers, contribute to our local community, mitigate the impacts to our neighborhoods and serve our labor force—these are important metrics. Given our success and leadership in these areas, the Port of Long Beach is No. 1.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the percentage of cargo-handling equipment at the port that is currently zero-emission.