SSA Terminals will retrofit 13 of its diesel-powered rubber tired gantry (RTG) cranes operating at the Port of Oakland in the US with diesel-electric hybrid engines.

The planned upgrade is expected to improve air quality and offset more than 45t of exhaust emissions annually at the port.

The project is estimated to cost more than $6m, $5.1m of which is set to be provided by Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) under the Community Health Protection Grant Programme / Carl Moyer Programme.

SSA Terminals intends to use the grant to analyse the feasibility and promote the future deployment of zero-emission cargo-handling equipment.

Completion of the project is expected to take two years, once a deal on implementing the plan is finalised between SSA Terminals and Air District.

Port of Oakland Maritime director John Driscoll said: “We’re delighted that SSA is taking a lead role in curbing emissions.”

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“The cranes will minimise emissions of some air pollutants by 99% and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%.”

After the completion of the upgrade work, the cranes will continue to operate at SSA’s Oakland International Container Terminal situated in the Port of Oakland.

They will primarily use electricity to conduct cargo-handling operations and will only use diesel for battery charging.

The hybrid cranes will also be able to regenerate battery power when lowering containers, which can weigh more than 30t.

According to the port, the cranes will minimise emissions of some air pollutants by 99% and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40%.

Capable of lifting import boxes from stacks and then loading them on trucks for delivery as well as other activities, the cranes currently handle the equivalent of 600,000 20ft import containers annually.

SSA’s Oakland terminal is estimated to account for nearly 60% of the port’s total cargo volume.