According to a new online survey by three suppliers of “shore power” technology, an “overwhelming majority” of fleets want truckstop electrification — and would be willing to pay for it.
Xantrex Technology, Dometic, and Phillips & Temro, each of which supplies components that facilitate shore power installations, conducted the survey.
Shore power, they point out, is AC power that is supplied to mobile users at places such as RV parks and marinas. At a truckstop installation, a driver would run an outdoor extension cord from the electricity source to the truck to power appliances and devices such as an inverter/charger, microwave or television.
A total of 88% of all those responding said they want shore power developed for the trucking industry and 86% said they would be willing to pay for electrical service at truckstops.
Why is shore power such a hot topic? The cost of idling is the plain and simple answer. The Argonne National Laboratory, for example, estimates that U.S. longhaul Class 7 and 8 trucks typically idle their engines for up to 1,800 hours per truck per year. Other estimates put the figure as high as 2,600 hours per year.
And according to the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), along with burning expensive fuel, a truck idling for one hour suffers wear equal to about seven miles on the road.
In other words, a truck idling eight hours a day for 325 days of the year operates the maintenance equivalent of 18,000 miles and burns about 2,340 gallons of diesel (at 1.3 gallons per hour).
Other costs of idling go beyond the obvious fuel wasted and unnecessary engine wear.
Argonne estimates that one truck idling 1,890 hours per year emits about 20 tons of carbon dioxide, 420 lb. of carbon monoxide and 250 lb. of nitrous oxides. Communities near truckstops can easily get concerned about subjecting people working around or living near idling trucks to those pollutants.
And more and more localities are becoming disenchanted by the noise generated by row after row of idling trucks at truckstops and other parking facilities.
Topping the negatives off, there's the bad press the industry gets for letting unnecessary idling contribute to the greenhouse gases that create smog and attack the ozone layer.
Several of those taking the survey offered strong opinions about the importance of shore power.
“Shore power is the best idea for trucks since the invention of the wheel” said one and another stated, “I think it's a wonderful idea. It's about time the trucking industry catches up with the rest of the world. Even by paying for the energy used, it would maintain lower operating costs for the truck.”
“The comments in this survey show a pent-up demand by people in the industry,” says Brian Lawrence, heavy duty truck segment manager for Xantrex. “It's meaningful that people took the time to make comments because they haven't had a chance to voice their concerns about this before.”
Lawrence points out that several states already prohibit idling and he expects it eventually will be outlawed across the country.
He said the survey results will be shared with politicians and government agencies, including EPA and the Departments of Energy and Transportation.
But he recommends that fleets wanting shore power not wait for government to act.
“If the industry truly wants this, they will have to let their voices be heard,” reasons Lawrence “They need to let truckstops know they want and will pay for electrification.”