Sun, Wind, and Waves – The Unstoppable Drive Towards Renewable Energy in Logistics By Mr. Darshan Ghodawat, CEO and Managing Director, AVA Global Logistics LLP

In a world where talk is cheap but action speaks volumes, the logistics sector is putting its foot on the pedal when embracing renewable energy. Solar, wind and waves are no longer just buzzwords; they’re becoming the lifeblood of an industry that has long been synonymous with fuel-guzzling and emissions.

Logistics’ Green Awakening

Gone are the days when logistics companies could disregard their environmental impact. Passenger and Goods transportation accounts for 20% or 7 billion tons of CO2 emissions globally. Within transportation emissions, maritime shipping accounts for approximately 10% (700 million tons) of CO2, while aviation contributes over 11% (800 million tons). Surface transportation of passengers is the most significant contributor, responsible for around 75% (4.9 billion tons) of CO2 emissions, with surface transportation of goods making up the remaining 5%. In comparison, air travel and freight combined only represent 1% of the total transportation emissions.

The world is in the throes of a climate crisis, and regulations are tightening like never before. Logistics isn’t just a part of the problem; it can be a vital part of the solution. This transformation represents a departure from traditional logistics practices that heavily relied on fossil fuels and reflects a broader commitment to address the pressing issue of climate change. Renewable energy is crucial to the logistics sector because it aligns with environmental goals, helps comply with regulations, offers cost savings, enhances energy security, and contributes to a positive brand image. By embracing renewable energy sources, logistics companies can reduce their carbon footprint and improve their long-term sustainability and competitiveness in a rapidly changing business landscape.

The logistics sector has responded to the imperative of using renewable energy by adopting a multi-faceted approach that includes transitioning to these electric and renewable energy-powered vehicles, improving energy efficiency, embracing sustainable practices throughout the supply chain, and leveraging government incentives and technological innovations. Take India, for instance, where the logistics industry has seriously liked EVs. They’ve become the backbone of last-mile delivery, revolutionising how goods reach your doorstep.

As per industry data, in 2022 alone, 80,000 electric two-wheelers joined India’s delivery fleet of around 5 lakh vehicles. Government incentives and climate-focused policies have powered this surge, aligning with the nation’s ambitious carbon-cutting targets. To fully embrace green practices, logistics companies must complement EV adoption by transitioning to renewable energy sources, leveraging India’s substantial capacity for non-fossil-based energy.

Challenges and Charging Ahead

It’s not all smooth sailing as charging infrastructure in India is playing catch-up. However, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is set on developing EV-friendly highways with charging stations, soon breaking free from this constraint. Commercial vehicle buyers can enjoy direct discounts on EV purchases with government incentives like the FAME- II scheme. To go green, logistics players must pivot towards renewable energy sources to juice up their EV fleets. The logistics industry isn’t just catching up; it’s getting ahead in the race towards renewable energy. As 40% of India’s power comes from non-fossil-based sources, according to the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the transition to renewables is not just a dream; it’s becoming a reality. The challenge of bulky and costly EV batteries is being tackled head-on. Solutions are in the pipeline to streamline storage within delivery vehicles and reduce charging times. These innovations will accelerate the shift towards EVs in logistics.

Besides transportation, solar and wind energy infrastructure is needed to generate electricity for their warehouses and distribution centres. Solar panels on rooftops and parking lots harness the sun’s power, reducing energy costs and reliance on non-renewable energy sources. In the future, logistics companies will also explore using hydrogen fuel cells for heavy-duty transportation, such as trucks and forklifts. Hydrogen fuel cells offer the advantage of zero emissions and rapid refuelling, making them a promising option for long-haul logistics.

Beyond renewable energy adoption, logistics companies are implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices within their operations. This includes optimising transportation routes, improving fuel efficiency, and reducing warehouse energy waste. Some have started carbon offsetting initiatives by investing in reforestation, renewable energy projects, or purchasing carbon credits. This helps compensate for their remaining emissions and aligns with their sustainability goals.

The industry is also actively pursuing several key initiatives to address emissions. The widespread adoption of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil is underway in maritime shipping, along with innovative approaches like converting waste heat into energy. The next frontier holds the promise of harnessing renewable energy from sea waves. Aviation focuses on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, scaling up Sustainable Aviation Fuels production, and investing in fleet replacement strategies. On the hinterland transportation front, the game-changer is anticipated to be the adoption of green hydrogen and solar energy to power trucks, promising a more sustainable future for goods and passenger transport.

Sustainability Beyond Profits

Not only will this significantly cut emissions, but it will also boost profits and create a happier workforce. Emissions from various modes of transport are pushing our planet’s temperature to perilous levels. The logistics industry, the lifeblood of global commerce, has a crucial role to play. It’s not just about moving goods; it’s about moving towards a better, greener world. The world is watching, and the logistics industry is responding. Renewable energy and electric vehicles are not just trends but a lifeline to a more sustainable future. The logistics of tomorrow are bold, efficient, and undeniably green.