Both shipping and leisure cruising industries are moving towards sustainable maritime transportation by investing in new-generation, green ships. However, there’s more to reducing emission levels than just using eco-friendly vessels. Infrastructure also plays a crucial role in this regard, and in 2024, we could see more and more ports around the world adding green features to support cleaner maritime operations.
In line with this trend, the Port of Virginia is all set to make history by becoming the first major Port on the East Coast to rely solely on clean energy for all its operations. And the best part is that they will achieve this remarkable feat eight years ahead of the targeted deadline. This could also accelerate its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040.
“Virginia is the first major US East Coast port to power its entire operation using 100 percent clean electricity,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA). “In doing so, the port is building upon its reputation as America’s Most Modern Gateway.”
“Our cargo operations and overall performance are world-class, and we are advancing sustainability goals that are aligned with how we operate. This is a modern approach to meeting our environmental targets, and we are setting ourselves apart as a result.”
The Port of Virginia’s fleet of electric equipment will be powered by 100% clean energy. The Port currently operates 116 electric stacking cranes, four electric rail cranes, and 27 electric ship-to-shore cranes. And this innovative fleet will continue to grow. In the future, the Port plans to operate 152 electric stacking cranes, seven electric rail cranes, and 31 electric ship-to-shore cranes.
Using clean electricity can help the Port offset its carbon footprint by reducing carbon emissions by 45% per container. This reduction comes in two target areas: scope 1 and 2 emissions. Scope 1 is emissions generated by equipment exhaust, and scope 2 is the emissions generated by the electricity used to power and charge electric equipment, as well as supplying port buildings with lighting, heating, air conditioning, etc.
This achievement demonstrates the Port’s commitment to supporting sustainability in Virginia and puts them eight years ahead of their original goal for 2032 of using clean energy to power operations. This is a significant step towards achieving their net-zero by 2040 commitment.
The move to clean electricity is a result of a Power Purchase Agreement with Dominion Energy and a rider with Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. The agreement ensures the generation and allocation of enough clean energy to support all current and future operational megawatt requirements.
“Helping The Port of Virginia become the first net-zero port on the US East Coast is part of our core mission to provide our customers with reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy,” said Robert M. Blue, Dominion Energy’s chair, president, and CEO. “Virginia’s Port is second to none and plays a vital role in the development of offshore wind along the East Coast. The action it is taking on its sustainability goal shows this is a forward-looking organization at the forefront of Virginia’s clean energy transition.”
The Port is also investing $220 million in the development of the US East Coast’s first offshore wind logistics hub in Portsmouth at Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT). This project is supporting Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, which is a 176-unit wind-turbine-energy farm off of Virginia Beach and the largest offshore wind project in America to date.