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Port of San Diego to install solar-powered microgrid in 2020

The microgrid is expected to cost $9.6 million and will be installed spring 2020. The California Energy Commission will provide $4,985,272 in grant funding for the project. That will be matched with $4,427,973 from the port and $201,963 from UC San Diego.

“The port will be evaluating its operation 24 hours a day. We hope to come up with a business case to show how microgrids can benefit the ports all over the world,” said Mike Gravely, CEC research program manager.

The project will showcase the economic, environmental, and social benefits of a solar microgrid on a large scale. The project is expected to cut the port’s energy costs significantly while demonstrating integration of distributed energy resources — including solar, battery storage, electric vehicles, and demand response.

The Port of San Diego is Dole s first stop for fresh fruit that is moving into the U.S. from South A...

The Port of San Diego is Dole’s first stop for fresh fruit that is moving into the U.S. from South America. The Port receives approximately 95,000 twenty-foot containers of Dole fruit each year.
Dale Frost/Port of San Diego


According to Gravely, the most important aspect of the project will be to see how the microgrid can island from the grid — and for how long. This will be accomplished by providing real-life experience in operating batteries, solar photovoltaics, and storage.

While photovoltaics and batteries are well known for their capabilities, it will be a test to see how combining equipment and software functions over extended periods of time. “The only way to know what works is to do it. We have found that with PV and storage from two different vendors, software needs to be adjusted. There’s some trial-and-error,” Gravely said.

The plan is to make future microgrids less expensive, and it looks like this will be the case with this project. The project is expected to reduce the port’s energy costs by 60 percent, said Renée Yarmy, the port’s program manager of energy and sustainability. The savings come from improved efficiencies and advantageous contracting.

Wind turbine towers being offloaded at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in 2009.

Wind turbine towers being offloaded at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in 2009.
Dale Frost of the Port of San Diego


Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal
The Port of San Diego is one of America’s top 30 U.S. container-ship ports, bringing in nearly 3,000,000 metric tons (3,000,000 long tons; 3,300,000 short tons) of cargo every year through the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and the National City Marine Terminal.

The Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal is a 96 acres (39 hectares) multi-purpose eight berth facility. Its Inbound cargo includes refrigerated commodities, fertilizer, cement, break-bulk commodities, such as such as military equipment and vehicles, and forest products.

Besides the terminals, the port also has public parks, piers, marinas, museums, hotels, restaurants, retail and more on 34 miles of San Diego Bay waterfront. The port is located adjacent to the airport and also to a disadvantaged community, both of which will reap advantages from the microgrid.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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