New zero-emissions tug being built for testing in the ports of LA, Long Beach – Daily News

Donna Littlejohn


A $31 million, first-of-its-kind, clean tugboat now being built will head into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for testing.

The L.A. harbor commission gave its approval for the shared trial of the hybrid electric tug boat at the panel’s meeting on Thursday, Jan. 11, while the Port of Long Beach, the lead agency, approved the trial run on Oct. 18.

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The new tug has a bigger and more powerful battery, said Lisa Wunder, interim director of Environmental Management for the LA port, and is intended to be 100% zero-emissions. The ports’ respective financial portions will be $750,000 each for the trial, which is being carried out as part of the joint-port Clean Air Action Plan Technology Advancement Program project. Other funding will come from various grants.

The battery plug-in hybrid vessel is being constructed now under a contract between Crowley Marine Services and a shipbuilder.

The Port of Long Beach will enter into the formal agreement with Crowley.

The new tug will be powered by dual batteries using a charging system that will rapidly recharge the batteries.

While it will include diesel engines, Wunder told the commission, the tugboat is designed to use those only as backup and for emergencies.

“We did have a hybrid electric tug that ultimately was not successful a few years back,” Wunder told commissioners. “That is the challenge, (but) this is being constructed with a larger battery. The technology continues to evolve.”

If it works and is certified by the California Air Resources Board, she said, there is an opening for the model to be mass produced and the cost being reduced if that happens. A traditional tug costs about $15 million.

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Infrastructure to support the tug is being developed at two berths within the Port of Los Angeles, Wunder said.

Much of the additional costs for the demonstration model, she added, has to do not only with the innovative technology but also with other parts on board that can regenerate the battery.

The cost for the new technology, even when prototypes have been proven to work, has been a hurdle, Commissioner Ed Renwick said. Prior experimental battery equipment for vessels has resulted in fires, he said, “so we couldn’t make it work.”

But even when demonstration projects are successful, he said, “the next problem is getting enough people to adopt it so it will be manufactured at scale.”

And first, demand has to grow, Renwick said, “so industry has to start manufacturing (the models) at a scale large enough to make them even close to cost-effective. This is step one of a very long and painful process.”

Commissioner Diane Middleton said she was more optimistic, adding that advancements in emissions-cutting equipment are being made globally.

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2024-01-11 23:26:30 , Long Beach – Daily News

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