It’s no secret that internal combustion engines (ICE) and their related carbon emissions impact the environment. With the acknowledgment of climate change, the world has begun searching for alternatives to what has traditionally been the most efficient and most powerful option for every industry. Are you familiar with the damage that ICEs are doing to the environment every day? As governments look for ways to reduce our collective impact on the ecosystem, ICEs and associated regulations are causing headaches for the industries that rely on them.
Take a look at our deep dive to understand exactly how diesel fuels are damaging the environment and impeding your business.
There’s a lot of talk about reducing emissions. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the principal greenhouse gases (GHG) that many governments are specifically taking aim at. CO2 is a gas responsible for helping our atmosphere trap heat, so in an era where global warming is at the forefront of many discussions, it makes sense to combat increased CO2 emissions.
There are several ways people can combat this global warming process. However, because our infrastructure has historically been built around the power of fossil fuels, there is no simple solution. This is further compounded when you examine exactly which sectors contribute the most CO2 to our atmosphere.
Carbon Emissions Impact Industry at Large
It’s generally the Transportation sector that produces the highest levels of carbon emissions, accounting for 27% of all GHG emissions in the United States in 2020. The Industrial sector, however, is not far behind with 24% of the total contributed GHG emissions across the nation. The main difference in these industries right now is that there is a booming electric vehicle industry that is innovating and improving itself year after year. As electric buses and trucks become more prevalent, it’s guaranteed that Transportation emissions will drop. Currently, however, there are limited options for the Industrial sector to follow suit.
The impact of these emission reductions is becoming more critical to day-to-day corporate operations. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting has become standard for nations across the globe. Likewise, more investors, particularly large institutional investors, are looking to see what ESG goals companies are setting. Where previously, financial goals were the sole focus, environmental goals have carved a space for themselves in corporate discussions. As Harvard Law School tells us, some of these goals include employee safety, climate commitment, carbon footprint, and of course, emissions reduction.
This is where HEVI has decided to enter the fray. With our all-electric heavy equipment, we represent the first and best commercially-available solution to drastically reducing your fleet’s carbon footprint.
To understand how emissions relate to your equipment, we need to first understand some science.
The Weight of Carbon Emissions’ Impact
According to the EPA, every gallon of diesel burned results in about 22 pounds of carbon emissions. As we’ve mentioned, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that’s responsible for trapping heat in our atmosphere. However, as we work to fight climate change, it’s a delicate balancing act – too much carbon dioxide, too much heat. One method of combating these emissions is to offset, or counterbalance, them.
A simple and popular way to think of this is using trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air in order to produce oxygen, making them a “carbon sink.” More specifically, a mature tree absorbs 48 pounds of carbon in a year. Your vehicle’s emissions, which produce carbon dioxide, can be considered “carbon faucets.” If you made sure there was a carbon sink big enough to handle everything produced by your carbon faucet, or, in other words, you plant enough trees to absorb all your carbon emissions, you have offset your emissions.
Although there are better ways to combat carbon emissions (we’ll get into that in a moment), the trees analogy is useful because it helps us think of emissions impacts in terms of space. Trees take up space, and you can be sure that one tree isn’t enough to combat the carbon emissions of your entire heavy equipment fleet. So, how much space would it take to offset one year of emissions put out by one piece of heavy equipment?
Let’s take a look!
Visualizing Carbon Emissions
Offsetting one year of emissions from a wheel loader* takes the space of 489.4 average sized homes.
We’ll start with our carbon faucet, the ICE in your equipment.
For this example, we’ll use a real-life product, the Volvo L150H diesel wheel loader. Volvo’s L150H burns approximately 4 gallons of diesel fuel per hour, according to their own fuel efficiency information. This means that for an 8-hour day, the L150H burns 32 gallons of diesel. For a 5 day work week, 160 gallons. A year? 8,320 gallons of diesel burnt. Next, the EIA tells us that 1 gallon of diesel burnt produces 22 pounds of carbon.
With the last piece, we can see the math resolve itself:
8,320 gallons burnt = 183,040 pounds, or 91.5 tons, of carbon emissions.
So a single L150H outputs approximately 91.5 tons of carbon every single year. How could a company create a sink big enough to offset those emissions?
Well, let’s examine take a look at the principal element of our hypothetical faucet: One mature tree absorbs 48 pounds of carbon in a year. Scaling it up, we see that…
1 acre of planted trees can absorb roughly 3.6 tons of CO2 per year**.
Therefore, to offset 91.5 tons of emissions, you’ll need to plant a lot of trees:
25.4 acres of planted trees are needed to absorb roughly 1 wheel loader’s emissions of CO2 per year.
For sufficiently large operations, a fleet of 10 of these would need 254 acres planted every year. This means you could fit 4,894 average-sized houses*** in the space it would take to offset your emissions.
If your fleet includes larger vehicles like the beefier L350H, the math is even worse. Because it burns 9 gallons of diesel an hour, a single L350H puts 205 tons of carbon into the air. That means you’d have to add another 56.9 acres to your offset, space that could fit another 1096 homes.
Exclude, Don’t Offset
To be clear, HEVI applauds all attempts to combat CO2 emissions. The world needs to act now, and act together, to combat climate change. There are many amazing organizations like Evertreen, a company that makes a positive impact on our environment and creates jobs through forest planting. But truthfully, there is a better way to combat your company’s carbon emissions and meet your ESG goals.
We believe the best way to reduce your carbon emissions impact is to actively reduce the amount of carbon you put into the air. When you stop using equipment that produces carbon emissions, you reduce your carbon footprint immediately. HEVI’s equipment, such as our GEL-1800 electric wheel loader, was developed with zero operating emissions because we know the best way to make change is to stop emissions right at the source – but we can’t knock the legs out from under our most critical industries.
That’s why we’re here to support your business as it transitions with the world to the new frontier of electrification. By adopting electric equipment now, you’ll be ahead of the game in your ESG reports and helping to fight global warming while you’re at it. To learn more about how electrification can impact your business for the better, click here.
*This refers to the Volvo L150H, per Volvo’s Fuel Efficiency Guarantee, https://www.volvoce.com/united-states/en-us/services/volvo-services/fuel-efficiency-services/fuel-efficiency-guarantee/
**Total cumulative carbon absorbed using 1 hectare of planted oak trees in New Jersey absorbing 180 T/20 years, https://winrock.org/flr-calculator/
***Based on average square foot value of homes in the United States in 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/456925/median-size-of-single-family-home-usa/#statisticContainer