Efficient, reliable power supply is essential to port operations throughout the world. As research into off-shore energy and alternative fuels continues, it’s important to keep in mind the resources available now to provide prime and supplemental power for port operations. From portable generators and shore power to fleet vehicles, alternative energy sources like propane have the potential to power a variety of port applications.

Propane power generation
Whether planned or unplanned, power outages can happen at any time and ports can’t afford extended periods of downtime. By incorporating a variety of power generation options, port authorities can mitigate the effects of hazards beyond their control.

Portable propane generators offer versatility in a port setting and can go wherever power is needed, whether or not an area is connected to the grid or another power source. Plus, propane won’t degrade over time like diesel or other fuels, ensuring generators are always ready for use.

For a more permanent installation, propane standby generators provide power within seconds of a main power interruption and can handle a port’s energy needs for days, unlike solar or wind-powered systems, making it an ideal backup or prime option for shore power.


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Shore power provides power from the shoreline to a ship while docked, allowing ships to maintain fundamental vessel functions without running auxiliary engines and burning diesel fuel. Shore power is often connected to the grid but can also be powered by microgrids. A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously. Within microgrids are one or more kinds of distributed energy—solar panels, wind turbines, combined heat and power, and or, generators—that produce power during sudden or planned power outages. The quest for a more reliable, secure, and clean energy system is driving investment in microgrid technologies that can deliver superior reliability and resiliency for the nation’s aging and vulnerable grid.

Propane-powered port vehicles
Propane can also efficiently and reliably power port vehicles. MAFI recently released its propane-powered port tractor that’s proven to match its diesel counterparts’ power output and last a full 8-hour shift without slowing down. With quick refueling, the propane-powered port tractor is able to continue operations while an electric port tractor requires 4-6 hours to fully recharge.

Not only can propane power port vehicles, it can reliably recharge electric vehicles. New innovations in electric vehicle charging utilize a propane-powered generator—in some cases along with wind and solar power—to recharge light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including forklifts and port tractors, independent of the electric grid. Additionally, solutions like Propane Fueling Solutions’ portable dual-purpose standalone fueling system allows fleets with various alternative fuel vehicles to refuel with propane autogas or recharge with DC level 3 fast chargers.

As innovations in alternative energy technology continue to advance, ports have the ability to achieve a more efficient and reliable future. With propane-powered grid technology and cargo handling equipment, port authorities can make significant steps toward those goals now.

Source: Maritime Professional


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Issue 87 of Robban Assafina

(Sept./ Oct. 2023)


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