California’s Zero-Emission Equipment Program

"No emissions allowed" sign depicting a car.

The impact of human activity on the environment is increasingly important to consumers. The financial cost of reducing carbon emissions is significant, but the cost of alienating environmentally aware consumers may be greater.

For some shippers, there could be a significant reduction in the expenses that go toward meeting carbon emissions goals. The California Air Resources Board has launched its Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project, or CORE. This program designates $44 million in vouchers that shippers can use to deploy low- and zero-emission equipment at airports, distribution centers, ports, and rail yards. The funds come from the California Climate Investment Initiative, a statewide program that invests cap-and-trade dollars in projects designed to reduce carbon emissions.

The shipping industry is one of California’s biggest economic sectors, but it is heavily reliant on equipment powered by fossil fuels. What steps can the industry take to change this? Here are five possibilities:

Zero-Emission Vehicles

Zero-emission vehicles are gaining popularity for both personal and commercial use. Traditional manufacturers like Daimler, Hyundai, and Toyota, and the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, are rolling out electric and fuel-cell powered vehicles that operate without carbon emissions. These technologies are easy to apply to forklifts and other transportation equipment.

Renewable Energy

Electric vehicles can be environmentally friendly if their source of power is clean. Renewable energy from sources like wind and solar power can make carbon-neutral logistics possible.

Cold Ironing in Port

Ships in port often run generators to power light, ventilation, and other systems on board. Ships can switch to “cold ironing” and use clean, onshore power when they are in port. The fuel savings could be small but significant.

Route Optimization

There is a lot of room for efficiency improvements in how oceangoing ships operate. By optimizing routes to take advantage of currents, weather, and other ocean conditions, ships can make efficiency gains of five to ten percent.

Improved Hardware

An oceangoing cargo vessel may use over 2,500 gallons of fuel every hour. Small changes such as improved hull designs, optimized screws, and waste heat recovery may only reduce fuel usage by a few percentage points, but the savings add up quickly.

The shipping industry has been dependent on inefficient equipment powered by diesel and fuel oil for many years. Rolling out new low- and zero-emission equipment can be costly, but stricter regulations and consumer opinion are now forcing companies to make this investment.

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