Siemens supports businesses into electrifying fleets

Electronics giant Siemens is helping major businesses reduce their carbon emissions by switching to electric commercial vehicles. It is estimated that HGVs, vans and trucks are responsible for 22% of the EU’s transport carbon emissions yet amount to just 2% of the traffic.

The EU has set pollution reduction targets for commercial trucks – they must emit 15% less CO2 by 2025 and 30% less by 2030. These relatively slow changes are supported with improvements in electric vehicle technology such as charging infrastructure and technology.

“Electric truck charging installations face similar, if not, many of the same operational challenges as e-Bus environments, which have taught us much about the electrification of transport. These learnings have translated into invaluable insights about the use of optimum charging strategies, efficient grid management and workable financial models,” noted Bernard Magee, Director, Electric Vehicle Charging, Siemens.

With more eTrucks coming onto the market, fleet operators will have to look at how these vehicles will be charged for each use case. Light commercial vehicles, medium and large inner-city vehicles, heavy-duty intercity transports or specialised applications such as electric refuse collection trucks will all have different approaches.

Technological and economic factors govern whether slower low-power AC or faster high-power DC charging will be adopted. “It’s all about managing the vehicle power demand as efficiently as possible and perfecting a balance that minimises the level of power drawn from the grid,” explained Magee.

He pointed out that DC charging is more commonplace where fast turnarounds are required (2-3 hours to full charge) and slower charging where this isn’t necessary. Fleet operators need to put time and effort into an efficient charging strategy according to the vehicles being used and the way the fleet is being managed.

Magee: “In scenarios where eTrucks such as refuse collection trucks have to work from a predictable schedule: early morning start; return to the depot by the afternoon; restart the following morning. The end of a ‘shift’ provides an ideal opportunity for recharging back at base. Similarly, light commercial vehicles and medium-duty inner city vehicles are likely to have predetermined starts and ends to relatively short journeys where recharging can take place. Heavy-duty intercity transports may require a blend of en route and depot charging. Pantographs – retractable charging apparatus – more commonly deployed in Europe and US, could be deployed for rapid opportunity charging if appropriate, while a mix of cleaner fuel types could be used for covering greater distances.”

Depending upon the location and access to the grid, power infrastructure demands will vary in complexity and design across depots, distribution centres and public stations as the sites come on stream. City centre sites tend to be hampered by space and power limitations, and, on occasions, require innovative workarounds. Rural installations afford the freedom to experiment with grid ecosystems to better manage the flow of energy. Magee continued: “Electric fleets demand reliable and resilient power with 100% uptime. Power distribution systems may need to be upgraded on-site or consultation with Distribution Network Operators to add more power lines could all form part of the design process. Meeting this scope of challenge not only requires extensive power and grid technical knowledge but also experience in delivering reliable scalable high-performance solutions on time with limited disruptions-– of which Siemens is only one of a few world-class vendors proficient at the planning, implementation and operation of eMobility charging infrastructure strategies.”

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