- The vehicles and technology necessary to drastically reduce emissions over the next 15 years at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are or will be available, according to a feasibility assessment gauging the plausibility the Port's goals conducted by the consulting firm Tetratech.
- The Port of LA already has public goals of reaching zero-emissions port equipment by 2030 and zero-emissions trucks by 2035. The necessary steps to reach those goals were released in 2017 in an update to the Port's Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), first published in 2006. The report released this week details which low or no emissions drayage equipment is ready for implementation today or will be in the near term (defined as 2018-2021).
- A new CAAP feasibility assessment will be released every three years. "It is important to repeatedly stress that this 2018 Feasibility Assessment for Drayage Trucks represents a snapshot in time. The technology and economic landscapes for clean heavy-duty transportation technologies can change rapidly," explained the report.
Setting ambitious and specific sustainability goals come with a lofty challenge: They often must be set before technology and market forces make them possible or realistic.
The feasibility assessment issued by the San Pedro Bay ports this week is intended not just to check in on progress at the Port, but also to check in on progress in the market. Are the trucks and equipment needed to reach zero emissions by 2035 developing in a timely fashion? Regarding vehicle availability, the authors studied:
- Commercial Availability
- Technical Viability
- Operational Feasibility
- Availability of Infrastructure and Fuel
- Economic Workability (Key Economic Considerations and Issues)
To determine if the necessary low- or zero-emissions trucks will be available on the market, the report authors surveyed 10 manufacturers to find out when their electric or fuel-cell powered trucks will be commercially available.
The assessment is cautiously optimistic. Most major relevant manufacturers, including Daimler, Volvo and Navistar, have or will have Class 8 electric vehicles in production by 2021 or soon after along with full warranties and repair support available, though most currently do not fit weight, range and charging time needs. Natural gas-powered vehicles are even farther along, though in some cases they lack the desired power and torque.
Relevant models are on the market, the assessment reported, but the major unknown that could stand in the way of a full conversion is production scale. Roughly 11,000 drayage trucks operate at the two ports outside of peak season. Currently, just 3% of the fleet utilizes natural gas.
Another must-have for a transition to low or no emissions operations is infrastructure for distributing alternative fuels in and around the ports. The two ports have between them 2,500 diesel retail stations, which set a "high bar" for making alternative fuels convenient, according to the report.
Natural gas fueling stations and electric charging stations are present but in much smaller numbers. Fast-charging power stations outside port gates in the surrounding area would be essential, and there are currently no such stations in any part of the U.S.
Electric charging will be a particular challenge since the ports have limited parking space. Quick-fueling (or charging) technology will be of great importance for electric power and natural gas vehicles, and the report estimates three to five natural gas fueling stations must be built per year to reach necessary capacity by 2021.
It's important to note the assessment does not take into account any monetary incentives that may be offered to port tenants or carriers, since such payments "have uncertain long-term availability, and are not necessarily available to all end users" in the words of the report.
The report concludes economic viability, operations feasibility and commercial availability of natural gas drayage trucks are high, while infrastructure availability is lagging. On the battery-powered side, all parameters were assessed as low to middling.