Hamburg to Use Peak Renewable Energy to Charge Harbor Vehicles

Hamburg will cut energy costs by charging batteries of vehicles that transport containers in Germany’s biggest port at times when excess wind and solar generation in the grid pushes power prices lower.

Hamburger Hafen Logistik AG, handling about three in four containers at the port, equipped 10 of 84 carriers at Altenwerder terminal with battery blocs weighing 12 metric tons each as part of a 10.4 million-euro ($14.4 million) research project, the first of its kind in the world, according to the company.

“We are trying to give an answer to how to integrate renewable energies into existing load cycles,” Stefan Behn, a HHLA board member responsible for the container business, told reporters today in Hamburg. “I am confident that we can make successful use of surplus green power and reduce our energy costs.” Savings estimates will be available when the project concludes at the end of 2015, Behn said.

Germany is shifting energy production to renewables as the government decided to close all of its 17 nuclear power stations by 2022 after the Fukushima reactor meltdown in Japan in 2011. The plan would more than triple Germany’s share of renewable-energy sources to 80 percent by 2050, from about a quarter now.

Hamburg’s project plans to link the battery and container management systems at the terminal with power load forecasting of energy suppliers to identify suitable charging windows, said Oliver Weinmann, managing director of Vattenfall AB’s Hamburg-based Vattenfall Europe Innovation GmbH unit.

Terex Port

The utility supplies the HHLA terminal with power and is a partner in the project alongside Terex Corp’s Terex Port Solutions unit, which provides the battery systems.

The project vehicles spend about 5 minutes to change their lead-acid battery bloc at a charging station every 20 hours, according to HHLA. Lithium-ion batteries, which have shorter charging periods, will also be tested, Mathias Dobner, managing director of Terex Port Solutions, told the journalists.

“The vehicles need to be up and running when ships arrive at the quay and at the same time we need to find the best timing to pump electricity into the charging station, which acts like a buffer,” he said. “We are exploring ways with heavy goods vehicles that the automotive industry hasn’t seen so far.”

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