Electricity fuels so much of our lives, it's difficult to imagine it powering even more.
But that's not how Duke Energy sees it. The company is now discovering new ways electricity can be the fuel of choice over other options – promoting efficiency and lower emissions to the environment.
Electric Vehicles – Electric vehicles (EVs) save consumers money through reduced fuel and maintenance expense. And, they contribute to cleaner air through lower emissions. Using electricity instead of gasoline as a fuel source drops the emissions from an EV by half versus a gas-powered automobile.
There are about 1 million EVs in the United States today. But that number is expected to grow to about 5 million by 2025. Duke Energy has around 160 electric vehicles in its fleet, and the company has committed that 5 percent of new vehicle purchases will be electric.
Duke Energy is helping build the public EV charging station infrastructure needed to support EVs. Two years ago, Duke Energy provided grants to towns and cities in North Carolina to locate 200 public EV charging stations in the state. Most of these stations have now been installed. By 2022, the company will have installed more than 500 charging stations in Florida.
Standby Refrigeration – So much of the nation’s food supply is transported by diesel trucks and refrigerated trailers. But many trailers use diesel-driven refrigeration units at distribution warehouses as they wait to be dispatched. Duke Energy has worked with two companies in North Carolina to install plug-in outlets – allowing the refrigerated trailers to use electricity instead of diesel fuel.
The North Carolina projects – at Golden States Foods in Garner and Merchants Distributors in Hickory – are plugging in for lower operating costs, a quieter workplace and reduced emissions.
Forklifts – Noise and emissions can be drastically cut as adoption of electric forklifts increases in warehouses across the nation. Like heavy-duty EVs, they are more expensive than traditional diesel-fuel vehicles, but reduced operating costs allow companies to recoup their investment in two years.
Since electric forklifts have 90 percent fewer parts than internal combustion vehicles, repair costs are much lower. Plus, they provide a health benefit to warehouse employees. The electric forklifts have no airborne emissions and are quieter to work around.