The Green Corridor: Catching the Sun Light! – How Logistics is Harnessing the Power of the Sun
The Green Corridor:
Catching the Sun Light! – How Logistics is Harnessing the Power of the Sun
by Timothy Foote, Founder of Susymbio
We all know that our sun’s power is the main energy source for life on Earth. Without the daily dose of sunlight – our planet will simply be a cold lifeless chunk of rock. In a NASA comparison, if a large power plant generated 1 billion watts of power in a year, it would take 44 million of these power plants to equal the power that our Earth receives from the sun.
The incentives to simply grab that energy from thin air is huge. It’s coming to us everyday (yes, even when it is cloudy) and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, great minds are making progress to capture this energy in ways that could change the transportation and logistics industry.
Every Building is Power Plant
Rooftop and worksite solar power generation has been evolving and growing. It has not been fast enough in my opinion, but more countries are offering incentives to retrofit existing buildings with tried and tested solar panel systems. In addition to saving on electricity used in warehousing activities, the electricity in some cases can even be sold back to the grid.
Sembcorp, LYS Group, Engie and JinkoSolar, are just a few players involved with solar power installation. The competition is already very mature for going solar. How much energy can be generated? It depends, but if you are near the equator I used a calculator tool to estimate that 100 square meters of solar panels could generate about 20,000 kWh of electricity per year. That is quite a bit of power – and the technology of solar cells is improving every year. This is just an estimate – the generation varies largely on what type of panels you get and the panel location and you need to consult a professional for better estimates for your individual situation.
Vehicles Also Have Roofs!
One familiar site in our transportation environment are busy roads. Sometimes bumper-to-bumper, transport vehicles need to expend lots of energy to their air conditioning units just to keep interiors cool enough for their drivers and their cargo. The standard truck handles this by burning more fossil fuels so that it can add power to air conditioning units. Providers like TRAILAR have invented equipment and software to allow vehicles the ability to harness power from the sun instead of from fossil fuels.
To be useful for transportation vehicles – a lightweight thin flexible solar collection “mat” is used to attach to the sun facing surfaces of the vehicle. These mats reduce weight and drag so that the power they generate is going to the benefit of reducing fuel consumption. Now the area a truck roof solar mat takes up will not currently generate all the needed power for running the vehicle, but it can generate enough to save about 2-3% of fuel. That adds up especially when you consider it is a one-time installation and the savings continue on and on.
Fuel is expensive and it pollutes the planet. Less fuel being burnt is better for everyone.
I spoke to a, Global Account Manager of TRAILAR to learn more about what vehicles are a good fit for solar power. Roof top units can really provide a benefit for powering ancillary motors. Air conditioning, refrigerators, freezers, lift gates, cranes, compactors, bus doors, electric charging outlets, just to list some examples. If you are working already with a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs), then solar power goes directly into charging your vehicles batteries and therefore increases the vehicles range and therefore productivity.
Using the Sun to Cut Emissions
Solar power generation is generally considered as the low hanging fruit for companies that want cut their green house gas emissions. It is not going to be a major source of reduction, but it pays for itself operationally over time regardless. So among the list of emission reducing initiatives – logistics teams can simply add the following to their road maps to zero emissions:
- Standard solar installation for power generation at warehouses
- Light-weight flexible vehicular solar cell installation for EVs and trucks powering ancillary equipment.
Let’s all start catching the sun for a brighter future!