Ship Comes In: $1M Grant to Support Port of Galveston Microgrid Pilot Project

Oct. 16, 2023
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved the grant. Galveston Wharves will partner with Texas A&M University on the project to study operational and environmental impacts of the onshore microgrid.

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.

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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