The Siemens eHighway heavy-duty truck project continues in California, as the company has revealed a mile-long stretch in the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach for testing purposes.
Siemens eHighway Heavy-Duty Trucks Continues With a Mile-Long Test Project
We’ve been covering the Siemens e-Highway story since August 2014 and at times it seems like a never-ending project. However, it is moving forward as the technology matures and the potential develops.
This time, in coordination with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), Siemens has announced the start of a one-mile, zero-emission eHighway for a heavy-duty trucks demonstration in Carson, California. Heavy-duty trucks are considered to be the #1 source of smog-forming emissions in Southern California.
So far, only a clean natural-gas hybrid-electric truck and a diesel-hybrid truck are driving on a one-mile stretch with a catenary system on the north- and south-bound lanes of South Alameda Street from East Lomita Boulevard to the Dominguez Channel in Carson. But we need more, many more.
The funds for the $13.5 million project come from various sources, including $2.5 million from SCAQMD, $4 million from a settlement with China Shipping, $3 million from the California Energy Commission, $2 million from the Port of Long Beach, and $2 million from LA Metro. But Siemens is also digging into its pocket by providing $1.3 million with an in-kind contribution. SCAQMD is providing an additional $2.1 million and the US Environmental Protection Agency $500,000 for the TransPower contract. You can find more on the Siemens website here.
According to Wayne Nastri, SCAQMD’s executive officer: “This project will help us evaluate the feasibility of a zero-emission cargo movement system using overhead catenary wires. This demonstration could lead to the deployment of eHighway systems that will reduce pollution and benefit public health for residents living near the ports.”
Andreas Thon, Siemens’ head of turnkey projects and electrification for North America added: “Every day, Americans rely on the goods and services that are carried by freight. But with that mode of transportation predicted to double by 2050, only one-third of this additional travel can be handled by trains despite the expansion of rail infrastructure. Experts expect global CO2 emissions from road freight traffic to more than double by 2050. This electrified truck system, what we call eHighway, can modernize the existing infrastructure using the latest technology to accommodate the growing amount of freight travel, reduce harmful emissions, and keep these ports, one of our country’s major economic drivers, competitive.”
Why Cleaning Access to Harbors Matters So Much
The idea is simple and the potential tremendous. Hybrid fossil-electric trucks hauling freight in and out of the dual-port area could cut a tremendous amount of emissions.
From the harbors to depots, the trucks would operate on electricity using special pantographs installed on top of their cabins, picking up electricity stretched on current poles through catenaries. The reason why this is such a great idea is that pollution in and around harbors is particularly troublesome as cars, trucks, trains, and sea vessels converge and spew a lot of toxic emissions.
When it comes to cars and trucks, both harbors have tried to push tougher laws and fees on containers, but those were ultimately rejected. The reason is that it would raise the price of goods. This is particularly shortsighted and narrow-minded since children going to schools near harbor highways have shown to have lungs that will never grow to full capacity. The buck will be passed down to other generations accumulating asthma and other air-related illnesses down the road (if not today). Cleaning access to traffic into both harbors has become an urgency.
When it comes to sea vessels, cold ironing (connecting to the local grid at berth) has been touted as the answer, but what is often left out is that anywhere from 40% to 60% of their ancillaries are still running freely spewing pollution into the air. To this date, Bob Sharp’s STAX Engineering is the only system that makes sense, cleaning up to 99.999% of emissions with a simple bell-like funnel than connects to a vessel’s stacks. The new and improved STAX Engineering modules are highly portable and modular, costing pennies on the dollar compared to other systems.
Where Are We With The Siemens eHighway Projects?
As you could imagine, these projects are complex and require coordination between agencies and land use. As of June 2016, Siemens launched its first eHighway system in Sweden on public roads. Running 2 km (1.25 miles) along the E16 highway north of Stockholm, the project will continue until 2018. It uses two biodiesel-hybrid vehicles from Scania. Another three field trials in German are planned to start in 2019.
Curbing pollution with all three transportation modes in harbors is crucial. Living in Long Beach and despite being on the other side of the harbor, I can vouch for stinging eyes on certain days, as well as smelling awful stenches once in a while.
We can only welcome the electrification of transport via Siemen’s eHighway heavy-duty trucks and appreciate their role reducing the heavy pollutants floating in the air. And we hope to see a large-scale rollout come to fruition sooner than later.
Disclosure: I have no direct or equity involvement with STAX Engineering. However, I do have an arrangement to assist the company in raising equity and/or debt finance where appropriate. Though, I’ve been friends with Bob longer than I’ve known about his business.
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