Electric Yard Tractors: Weighing the Costs and Benefits



Mark Sisson, Senior Port Planner, AECOM, Oakland, California


The latest Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (POLA/LB) has set a goal of zero emissions for cargo handling equipment by 2030. This has spurred a number of responses claiming that this goal will require enormous investment costs and will be onerous to achieve.

According to the 2015 POLA Inventory of Air Emissions, 53% of emissions at POLA/ LB come from yard tractors. If these can be effectively converted to electric tractors, the majority of the current emissions at the Ports can be removed. This article looks in detail at the expected costs and benefits of such a conversion.

This analysis will consider a hypothetical terminal with 10 quay cranes that is operating at a volume of one million moves per year. Because electric tractors are still a new technology, with few if any widespread marine terminal installations at time of writing, there is a good deal of uncertainty about the inputs. In this analysis both “optimistic” and “pessimistic” approaches are considered. Hopefully this will assist with port looking to determine the most likely near-term situation.

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