Electricity is powering electric vehicles but it’s also transforming business operations across a growing number of industries. From airports to seaport loading docks, electrification is happening across the country. It is empowering companies to make significant cost and energy savings, all while decreasing their environmental impact.
As a society, we have just scratched the surface of electricity’s potential as a fuel. The environmental benefits, cost savings and increases in productivity are virtually limitless. Electricity is helping America regain our independence by reducing our reliance on foreign oil.
Together, we can expand the conversation beyond personal vehicles to include the electrification of business operations, too.
Below is an overview of the some of the sectors and applications that are benefiting from the electrification of business operations.
Seaports are reducing emissions and saving money by replacing a number of their fossil-fueled equipment – cranes, forklifts, yard tractors – with electric alternatives. Georgia Port Authority, the fourth largest container port in the US, has reduced its diesel usage by more than 5 million gallons a year by switching to electricity. In addition to electrifying cargo-handling equipment, seaports offer other areas for electrification:
Shore Power: Cargo and passenger ships are plugging into dockside electric service to power onboard systems. A shore power initiative by Seattle City Light, the Port of Seattle, the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Holland America and Princess cruise ship lines reduced annual CO2 vessel emissions by 29 percent at the seaport.
Dredging: Most ports regularly dredge to ensure channel depths are maintained and suitable for navigation. Instead of standard diesel engines, electric dredging offers significant emission reductions and savings in equipment operations and maintenance, which is why it’s is the standard practice at ports including Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Houston and Mobile.
In response to increasing fuel costs and pressure to reduce emissions, airlines and airports are also electrifying equipment traditionally powered by fossil fuels, like baggage tugs, belt loaders, and pushback tractors.
Additionally, airplanes parked at the gate and waiting to either deplane or board passengers need power to operate onboard systems, which has traditionally been delivered through the plane’s jet fuel. By switching the power source to electricity, the airline can achieve significant cost savings and reduced emissions. Southwest Airlines has electrified gate operations in nearly every city it serves, saving nearly 20.5 million gallons of fuel annually.
Manufacturing and Mining
In warehouses, distribution centers and manufacturing plants, electric forklifts, cranes and side loaders have helped to reduce fuel and emissions. Electric forklifts have grown from less than one-third to more than half of annual forklift sales over the past 25 years.
The mining industry is also electrifying its equipment – shuttle cars, ram cars, overland conveyors, haulage systems and draglines. Jim Walters Coal Mine installed five miles of electric overland conveying for a coal transport route, replacing diesel and effectively eliminating fuel emissions and reducing its annual fuel bill from $5 million to $1 million.
GE Mining, a division of GE, announced in late 2012 its Invertex™ Electric Drive Systems for underground vehicles. The batteries in the new Electric Drive Systems operate effectively in extreme temperatures, require no cooling and need minimal maintenance. GE Mining is taking steps to further advance the clean energy solutions available for the mining industry.
Similar to ships docked at ports or airplanes sitting at a gate, long haul truck drivers usually sit with their engines in idle while parked at a rest stop. These idling engines consume more than a gallon of fuel per hour, and each long-haul truck in the US is estimated to consume roughly 2,400 gallons of fuel or more per year while idling. 95 truck stops throughout the US have already installed electrified parking spaces.
Companies that electrify their commercial fleets save more money, operate more efficiently and significantly reduce emissions. The predictability of fleet routes coupled with the low cost of electricity (when compared to petroleum) make EVs a great fit. Frito-Lay, the popular snack brand, has electrified its fleet, with more than 275 electric trucks deployed in the US by the end of 2012 – the largest EV truck fleet in the country. And GE, a multinational conglomerate, has already purchased thousands of electric cars for its corporate fleet.
Has your company electrified any business operations? If so, we’d love to hear about it! Share your story by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information regarding the benefits of electricity in business applications like the ones described above, visit the Electric Power Research Institute.
*images courtesy of EPRI