A $1 million state grant will help the Port of Galveston develop an onshore pilot microgrid to provide clean, portable power to docked ships and guide academics in better understanding on-site electrification benefits in the future.
Galveston Wharves, the leadership board for the port, announced it was awarded the $1 million grant by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The partnership with Texas A&M University will focus on reducing emissions from cargo shipping operations.
The pilot program will build an electricity microgrid to offer a power alternative to using the docked ship’s diesel-fueled auxiliary engines. Work will begin next year with completion expected by 2025.
“Improving air quality is one of our top environmental goals as a Green Marine-certified port,” Rodger Rees, port director and CEO of Galveston Wharves, said in a statement. “This grant will boost our objective to offer clean shore power to cargo ships calling at the Port of Galveston."
Green Marine, an environmental certification program focused on decarbonizing North America’s maritime industry, assisted Galveston Wharves in studying ways to improve the port’s emissions profile.
The Galveston and Texas A&M pilot project team will study the microgrid’s feasibility, environmental impact and operational data such as energy consumption and power production efficiency. The grant was awarded funds from TCEQ’s Texas Emissions Reduction Plan.
“The Galveston Campus is adjacent to the Port of Galveston, which employs many of our graduates. This partnership is in perfect alignment with our mission to educate, innovate and create real industry solutions,” said Col. Michael E. Fossum, Vice President of Texas A&M University, Chief Operating Officer of the Galveston Campus and Superintendent for the Texas A&M Maritime Academy.
The natural port, in operation for nearly 200 years, now receives more than 4 million short tons of carbo annually, according to statistics by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Nearly 2 million passengers also move through the Galveston port every year.
Most of the Texas’ power grid is overseen by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT. State leaders and grid officials increasingly have been touting the integration of distributed energy resources such as microgrids to help diversify and provide alternatives to utility-scale power generation resources in the event of extreme events such as the recent summer peak records and Winter Storm Uri in 2021.
These projects are also touted for helping avoid future projected transmission and distribution system capital investment costs. Nationwide, especially at ports such as those on the west coast in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Diego, are adopting and installing ,microgrids in onshore settings.
Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed a bill to allocate $1.8 billion for microgrid expansion in the state.