FedEx Experiments with Electric Vehicles
At its package distribution center in lower Manhattan, FedEx tests the waters with a fleet of 10 electric-powered delivery vans. Part of the study by FedEx, Columbia University and General Electric will include finding convenient and cost-effective solutions for charging the vehicles for future plans in making a major shift from gasoline to electric powered fleets.
FedEx has been testing the EV market for a number of years and currently has about 43 EVs in service in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. UPS has 29 and Frito-Lay has 176 electric trucks running on electricity, delivering goods to stores across North America. As part of Obama's National Clean Fleets Partnership, the companies have pledged to use more electric vehicles and alternative fuels for their fleets.
Unlike the others, however, FedEx is strategically experimenting with different vehicles from different companies to find the most cost-efficient and reliable model for large-scale, nation-wide use. That includes testing out the amount of electricity the vehicles would use and how that would affect the city's grid where they would be operating.
Each van requires about the same amount of energy as an average suburban house. The problem is, if a fleet of some 100 to 200 vehicles were to be charging at the same time, it's possible for the system to become overloaded and cause a blackout. Researchers are analyzing data from the vans charging activities to find a solution.
“We want to know how much electricity is going into the charging station, how many times each truck is being recharged, how many trips they take, and how far they go—all the electric parameters that come with a vehicle like this,” Matt Nielsen, GE Global Research’s lead scientist on the project, told Bloomberg. “We’re trying to bring in data from a lot of different sources.”
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Although the futuristic vans cost about two to three times the cost of traditional vans, it's estimated that they cost 75 percent less to operate than their gas hog counterparts. By the end of 2013, FedEx expects to have some solid answers for assessing its options in expanding the electric vans throughout the company. That's good news for the drivers as well, boasting that the new vans have a tighter turning radius and reduced noise pollution, making delivery shifts much more enjoyable.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
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Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly