CTE Driving Heavy-Duty Transport Towards A Clean Climate Future

October 7, 2019

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The Center for Transportation and the Environment Partners with Anheuser-Busch to deploy 21 BYD Class 8 electric trucks—a big step towards a zero emission future.

An Urgent Need for Zero Emissions

Faced with an ever-warming planet, humanity is working to find effective and immediate solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all of our activities–including how we distribute our favorite happy hour beverage: beer. To that end, the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE), an Atlanta-based nonprofit, is managing and facilitating a project with Anheuser-Busch, the leading American brewing company, to deploy 21 battery electric trucks in Anheuser-Busch’s California distribution fleet. This is part of a state-wide project to showcase economically and environmentally sustainable warehousing and distribution technology, advancing CTE’s goal of a zero-emission future.

Transportation accounts for 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US with 25% of these emissions coming from the medium and heavy-duty vehicle markets. Consider this within the context that medium and heavy-duty vehicles represent just 4% of the vehicles on the road.

Deploying 21 electric BYD trucks in Anheuser-Busch’s fleet is expected to result in emissions reductions of 910 metric tons of CO2 per year.

Given these daunting numbers, CTE focuses our efforts in these critical heavy-duty markets. Electrifying the heavy-duty sector can make a huge difference in emissions reductions. In fact, deploying these 21 electric trucks in Anheuser-Busch’s California fleet is expected to result in emissions reductions of 910 metric tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking almost 200 passenger vehicles off the road every year.

Solar Energy and Battery Electric Trucks: A Holistic Solution

This project, dubbed, “Zero Emission Beverage Handling and Distribution at Scale” will deploy BYD’s second generation 8TT Class 8 electric trucks at four Anheuser-Busch distribution facilities across Southern California in Sylmar, Riverside, Pomona, and Carson. A Southern California-based team from ENGIE, the world’s foremost energy services provider, will lead the design and installation of charging infrastructure to support the entire BYD fleet.

In tandem with this new charging infrastructure, ENGIE will also be installing and commissioning a 958.5 kW solar array at the Carson site. This solar installation will generate zero-emission power to offset the use of conventional energy in the charging process, effectively closing the loop and creating a 100% zero-emission logistics operation for the new electric fleet. CTE is dedicated to developing sustainable energy loops that enable our zero-emission tailpipe vehicle projects to become full well-to-wheel solutions. We are pleased to see this approach achieved in the Anheuser-Busch BYD project with the incorporation of renewables alongside zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) operations.

Joel Donham, engineering consultant at CTE, summarizes what the “Zero Emission Beverage Handling and Distribution at Scale” project means for the larger industry, “This project represents a huge step forward in integrating clean energy and clean transportation to realize the full environmental benefits of battery electric vehicles. CTE commends California’s Air Resources Board (ARB), the California Climate Investments (CCI) program, and all the project partners for their leadership in an effort to demonstrate the viability, benefits, and scalability of holistic energy and transportation systems.”

Zero Emission Vehicles: Modeling the Future

This zero-emission fleet is a landmark achievement–it is the largest deployment of its kind in North America, which provides an illuminating opportunity to understand best practices for deploying heavy-duty ZEVs at scale.  Large ZEV deployments present unique challenges, requiring operators to plan and manage vehicle routes in new ways, develop original technology and procedures to meet charging needs, and invest in infrastructure and multi-stakeholder partnerships in uncharted territory.

CTE plays a vital role in these early fleet electrification projects. When deploying these vehicles, CTE helps operators first understand how zero-emission technologies will operate in their specific context and for their specific needs. Once this is determined, operators can move on to working with utilities, planning infrastructure, determining charging schedules, and optimizing routes.

This deployment provides an illuminating opportunity to understand best practices for deploying heavy-duty ZEVs at scale.

To aid in this transition, CTE has successfully guided multiple fleet operators in deploying ZEVs. Because electric vehicles aren’t a drop-in replacement for their diesel and CNG counterparts, CTE uses an established project management approach and a proprietary modeling program to ensure project success. CTE has the knowledge, skills, and tools to run planning simulations to understand how ZEVs will operate in real life and ensure the technology is deployed as efficiently and effectively as possible. Over the past 26 years, CTE has helped clients and industry stakeholders envision the future, model it, and actively deploy it onto our roads. We have unrivaled in-house knowledge of ZEVs which we use to help organizations implement strategic plans and minimize the costs and risks associated with fleet electrification.

We have found over and over again that when deployed thoughtfully, these technologies are effective replacements for fossil fueled vehicles. In fact, as part of the initial validation, Anheuser-Busch put the BYD 8TT vehicle through extensive testing on range, acceleration, gradeability, charging speed, and more. The truck exceeded the requirements of Anheuser-Busch and received enthusiastic feedback from drivers, clearing the path to this large-scale deployment.

John Gerra, BYD’s director of business development, electric trucks, said of the project and its importance in California, “We’re honored to be part of this major milestone demonstrating the operational, economic, and environmental sustainability benefits of our zero-emission trucks. BYD trucks are out there right now working hard every day throughout California.”

CTE has the knowledge, skills, and tools to run planning simulations to understand how ZEVs will operate in real life.

Supporting the Shift Through Membership and Partnership

Anheuser-Busch is one of CTE’s newest Leadership Circle members, joining other industry leaders including Toyota, AECOM, Proterra, New Flyer, Plug Power, and Ballard. CTE supports our members by facilitating their partnerships across multi-sector deployments at scale. We also work with utilities to ensure our heavy-duty vehicle members have access to infrastructure to support ZEV fleets.  Additionally, CTE provides technical support to our early adopter members as they move through initial roll-out of these technologies. With their goal to reduce carbon emissions within the next five years, Anheuser-Busch is an example of how our members are changing the industry.

Angie Slaughter, vice president of sustainability procurement at Anheuser-Busch, remarked on the partnership with BYD, “At Anheuser-Busch, we are committed to leading our industry towards a more sustainable future by reducing our carbon emissions across our value chain by 25% by 2025. The transport industry is one that is prime for innovative solutions and we are excited to continue driving progress towards a zero-emission fleet through this partnership.”

Anheuser-Busch is taking a stance and setting an example for other industry stakeholders. The early adopters of this technology are vital to the eventual transition of all heavy-duty fleets—we can look to them as beacons leading us towards the future.

CTE also celebrates its partnership with California Climate Investments (CCI), a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. CTE is also partnered with CCI in collaboration with Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), and New Flyer of America to deploy 20 forty-foot fuel cell electric transit buses, providing just another example of CTE’s dedication to taking fossil-fueled vehicles off the road across many different operations. With two offices in California, one in St. Paul, Minnesota, and our headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, CTE is poised to continue partnering with agencies and operators across the US to move the country towards a zero-emission transportation network.

The early adopters of this technology are vital to the eventual transition of all heavy-duty fleets.

Richard Corey, executive officer at the California Air Resources Board, said of the landmark project, “With this exciting project, Anheuser-Busch is providing a real-world demonstration of the future for moving goods and products throughout California. I congratulate all the companies partnering on this impressive effort for embracing zero-emission trucks, and showing other businesses a zero-emissions solution to moving goods and cargo that cleans the air, protects our children’s health, and fights climate change.”

The project includes equipment testing, a one-year demonstration period, data collection, and associated reporting. The trucks are anticipated to begin operation near the end of 2019, when we will be able to begin data collection and performance analysis. The project will reach full completion in early 2021 after successful deployment, testing, and demonstration of satisfactory on-the-road performance. CTE is excited and proud to continue developing pathways and facilitating the transition to a cleaner and more sustainable transportation system, capable of efficiently moving people and goods, while simultaneously creating clean, connected communities and a healthy climate for all.