Red Hook Terminals is one of the largest cargo handling facilities on the east coast of the United States, with three facilities in the Port of NY&NJ and another in Baltimore. Port facilities rely on specialized trucks called yard tractors to move cargo around within the facility. It’s a complex and complicated process that requires careful coordination. Traditionally, those yard tractors are powered by diesel engines which spew copious quantities of pollutants out of their exhaust stacks, especially at idle.
Recently, Red Hook Terminals acquired 10 battery-electric terminal tractors manufactured by BYD to replace some of those diesel trucks. There were some concerns about doing so. Would the benefits of those electric tractors promised by EV advocates happen in the real world, where reliability is essential to keeping the freight moving? Would charging the trucks be an issue? Now, after the first full quarter using the BYD terminal tractors, the data is in and the results are astounding.
In a press release, Mike Stamatis, Red Hook CEO says, “I am happy to report that the operating results for the BYD battery electric terminal tractors are truly outstanding. We have recorded an 81% decline in fuel costs and a 90% decline in CO2 emissions, all while achieving 100% uptime of our terminal tractor fleet. The BYD terminal tractors and AMPLY Power control systems are both working perfectly. We are now pursuing additional emission reduction projects in Red Hook’s drive to net zero by 2025.”
The Red Hook Terminals Experience
The battery-electric tractors are being used to move cargo containers at the Red Hook Terminal in Port Newark, as well as to make runs to the other terminals at Port Newark and Port Elizabeth, and to haul cargo to the Millennium Marine Rail facility. The project was developed and is managed by Climate Change Mitigation Technologies, the leading New Jersey based developer and manager of zero emission truck and bus projects for public and private fleets.
“We have left the land of estimates and projections and crossed into the real world of digitally monitored performance data. As the project developer and project manager, CCMT is ecstatic about the results, which actually exceed our expectations, which were pretty high in the first place,” says James Sherman, CEO of CCMT. “The interesting thing to me is how much of the fuel costs and CO2 emissions are the result of idling emissions. Every port operator can achieve these same results right now.”
The importance of this achievement cannot be overstated. No longer do advocates for electric trucks and other heavy duty commercial equipment have to rely on promises, projections, or proposals. Now they have real world experience that shows going electric can increase productivity while lowering costs and dramatically reducing emissions.
AMPLY Power Charging Management
Getting Red Hook Terminals to add 10 electric yard tractors to its operations didn’t happen in a vacuum. CCMT played a key role by providing engineering, procurement, and construction services. It was the project manager for the design, installation, integration, and optimization of the charger facilities for the yard tractor fleet. CCMT tries to incorporate solar plus storage to create microgrids whenever possible.
Keeping those electric vehicles charged and ready to work is the province of AMPLY Power, which offers comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure and energy management services for fleets of electric trucks, buses, vans, and light-duty vehicles. OMEGA, the company’s intelligent charge management software, seeks out the lowest cost electricity from the sources with the least environmental impact. Customers can manage the entire process with the company’s customized, user friendly dashboard.
Paired with its available Charging as a Service model, AMPLY’s vehicle and charger agnostic approach allows the company to handle all the details of charging an EV fleet, which guarantees performance while dramatically reducing upfront capital expenditures. It also can reduce fuel costs by as much as 85%. The company was acquired by bp in December of 2021 as part of its US electrification strategy.
In an email to CleanTechnica, Sean Larkin, director of sales and business development for AMPLY Power said, “This analysis of Red Hook Terminals proves a point that EV fleets can be cost effective to fuel, while also demonstrating reliable uptime with no missed days of operations. It’s a win-win situation. Not only have we been able to help the company make its environmentally conscious operations a reality, but we’ve offered Red Hook the ability to remain hands-off when it comes to charging operations — from proactive issue resolution and real time monitoring, to adaptive load management, automated optimized charging and reporting. We look forward to seeing the progress continue with the Red Hook Terminals team.”
As I was writing this story, I was thinking of another transition that occurred some time ago that is similar to the EV revolution going on right before our eyes today. There was a time when asbestos was thought of as a “miracle material.” It was strong, light, and durable. It insulated the steam pipes that heated many of our homes and buildings. It only had one drawback. Many people who came in contact with asbestos became sick and died.
Is there a parallel to the diesel engine? I think there is. For generations it has been the primary power source for our heavy trucks, fork lifts, and construction equipment. It operates the cranes and hoists that load and unload cargo in seaports around the world. It pulls our freight trains and powers our ocean going ships. But many of those who breathe the effluent that spills out of the exhaust pipes of all those diesel engines — that would be you and me — get sick and some die as a result.
The American Lung Association just this week published a report that says converting our vehicle fleet to electrics will save $1.2 trillion over time. Money is nice, but money isn’t everything. The Lung Association also says converting to electric vehicles could save 110,000 lives in the US, avoid 2.79 million asthma attacks, and prevent 13.4 million lost work days.
Inertia is a thing; it’s real. We are comfortable with things the way they are. Change brings anxiety and stress. Who wants that? But the diesel age is waning just as the asbestos age did. We once thought DDT and fluorocarbons were essential elements of prosperity. We were wrong. We found substitutes that were better, cheaper, and longer lasting. We moved on.
Now it’s time to move on from the diesel engine, which produces copious amounts of harmful emissions, to electric motors that promote healthy living and a sustainable planet. Now we know our world won’t collapse if we do so, there is no reason to delay and every reason to pick up the pace of the transition.