Pressure to Remain on Trucking Industry to Reduce Energy Use: Nix
GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – The forestry and trucking industries are both very much under pressure to reduce their impact on the environment, but a well-known transportation consultant says the trucking industry should be commended for the progress it’s made in reducing emissions.
Fred Nix, an Ontario-based transportation consultant and a contributor to Truck News, Truck West and Motortruck, addressed the subject of trucks and energy at a recent Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC) western transportation conference.
The trucking industry is being asked to reduce its emissions largely because “the use of energy by trucks is growing by a more rapid rate than any other users in Canada,” Nix said.
Trucks create about 7.7 per cent of the greenhouse gases produced in Canada, he said.
“It’s a fairly significant proportion,” he pointed out. “The demand for energy by trucks is growing very rapidly.”
The Kyoto Accord, which Canada signed onto in 2002, calls on the country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels. Nix has done some research to determine if trucking alone could enable Canada to reach that target.
“If every truck in the U.S. used all the things that are available out there right now, you could double the fuel efficiency of the trucks that are out there,” Nix said, citing a report by the ARGONNE National Laboratory in the U.S. Reducing the fuel consumption of trucks by 50 per cent alone could potentially allow Canada to meet its Kyoto commitment.
While many still wonder what Kyoto’s implications will be for the trucking industry, Nix, who has pored through as much information as he could find on the subject, said “There is a plan, but the surprising thing is, there’s very little about trucking in there. There are some minor incentive programs, but in all these massive documents coming out of Ottawa, there are very few specific impacts on trucking … there’s been no Draconian government measures imposed on trucking.”
That’s somewhat surprising, since Class 8 trucks in Canada consume 8.9 billion litres of diesel per year.
Also, Nix pointed out that trucks and buses contribute 16 per cent of Canada’s NOx emissions and 0.2 per cent of the particulate matter (PM).
Those PM emissions may seem insignificant, but it’s a number not to be ignored as diesel engines contribute a higher portion of the very harmful fine particulate matter targeted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The trucking industry has made remarkable gains already towards reducing its impact on the environment, said Nix.
In 2007, NOx emissions will be 1.9 per cent of 1987 levels, while PM will be just 1.7 per cent of what they were in ’87, he pointed out.
“We will have eliminated 98 per cent of the emissions of those two substances. By 2007, truck engines are going to be pretty clean machines,” Nix said.
Nix made three suggestions for forestry companies who operate Class 8 trucks which can help protect the environment: spec’ the right equipment; use energy-efficient equipment such as auxiliary heaters and central tire inflation; and train drivers to operate the equipment in a fuel-efficient manner.
Not only does the environment win, but the fleet wins as well, Nix said, noting fuel is the most expensive cost to a truck owner after wages.
When comparing fuel-usage data, Nix discovered trucks have become about one per cent more fuel efficient per year between 1990 and 2001. If you stretch the figures back to 1976, it’s closer to two per cent.
In 1975, it took 3.5 litres of diesel to move one tonne of freight 100 kms. Now, that number is about 1.5 litres.
However, despite these gains, Nix warned bureaucrats in Ottawa and Washington will continue to keep a close eye on the energy consumed by the trucking industry.
“The interest in trucks and energy is not going to go away,” he said.
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