• Decarbonization
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Commercial Electric Vehicles

Decarbonizing Cargo Handling Equipment Through Electrification

Raquel Soat
Feb 02, 2021

Guidehouse Insights

The global population of cargo handling equipment (CHE) is increasing in all regions as economic growth pushes forward cargo-related markets. As the world relies more on shipping and air transit for commerce, emissions are expected to increase from seaport CHE, airport ground support equipment (GSE), and forklift markets. Electrification of these segments is crucial in reducing the environmental impacts of the transport sector. To begin mitigating the emissions problem from the cargo handling segment, seaport CHE, airport GSE, and forklifts are being included in decarbonization and sustainability plans and regulatory policies in countries and regions around the world.

Incorporating CHE Electrification into Sustainability Planning

Guidehouse Insights’ latest report on CHE electrification forecasts that by 2030, 60% of CHE sales within the seaport, airport, and forklift segments will be electric. The electrification of these segments is possible as a result of the advancements and availability of electric CHE options as well as supportive policies and planning.

Heathrow Airport in London, for example, is including equipment electrification in broader sustainability planning. In 2017, the airport released its Heathrow 2.0 plan designed to create sustainable growth for the airport that would improve life for employees and passengers, contribute positively to the local economy, and decrease the airport’s impacts on climate change. One component of the Heathrow sustainability plan is developing a zero-carbon airport that is run on renewable energy and creates zero waste. This goal involves reducing emissions from GSE and developing charging infrastructure to support the operational needs of airport GSE.

On the seaport side of the CHE segment, the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest seaport, has embarked on a decarbonization plan for all aspects of the port including heating, CHE, and the large industrial sites located at the port. Although the effort is being run by the Port of Rotterdam, the goal is tied to larger GHG emissions reduction goals established in the European Union (EU) Paris Agreement targets. The EU member states have individual targets of reducing GHG emissions by as much as 40% from 2005 levels.

Regulating CHE

Although the CHE segment is a component of several emissions reduction strategies, only a handful of electrification regulations exist for these segments. California is an example of one location that has begun regulating emissions from CHE. 

In 2012, the amended California Mobile Cargo Handling Equipment Regulation was adopted. The regulation requires new equipment at seaports to have either a Tier 4 off-road engine or a model year 2010 or newer on-road engine. Most seaport vehicles, not crane systems, were required to meet these requirements by 2017. In March 2017, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) directed its staff to develop new regulations for CHE at seaports that will require 100% zero emissions equipment by 2030. The updated regulation is expected to be adopted by CARB in 2022. Similarly, CARB is developing a zero emissions airport GSE plan that is expected to be considered by the board in 2021.

Expect Electrification to Increase

To meet GHG emissions goals around the world and to reduce the overall emissions attributed to the transportation sector, it will be necessary to regulate the electrification of CHE and build it into sustainability and decarbonization planning. As more regions adopt sustainability plans and decarbonization policies, we can expect the electrification of CHE to increase.