Electrification of Transport Refrigeration for Idle Reduction: Technical Assistance Case Study in EPA Region 10

Substantial diesel fuel is burned by idling diesel engines to cool transport refrigeration units on trucks and trailers to keep temperature-controlled cargo at proper temperature while parked at distribution centers, cold storage warehouses, freight terminals and other goods movement facilities. Transport Refrigeration Units (TRU) powered by small diesel engines commonly run 40 to 60% of the time while parked. Electrification of these refrigeration units, when parked, offers the promise of substantially lower operating costs, engine wear, reduced toxic air pollution, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

However, adoption of electrification remains quite low across the U.S. despite economic and environmental benefits of TRU electrification. Low adoption of electrification is attributed to several barriers, among them: management buy-in, learning curve, concerns on initial infrastructure costs without understanding the operating cost savings.

A project addressed some of those barriers by providing technical assistance to businesses to understand their refrigerated fleet’s idling during normal operation, its effects, and how electrification adds value by reducing operating cost. This paper presents the findings of this project as a case study on electrification adoption, supported by the Pollution Prevention (P2) program in EPA Region 10 in the Pacific Northwest.

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