This year TIAC along with sustainability experts, Synergy-Corporate Sustainability Management, will bring you a series of articles and actionable insights on tourism & sustainability issues and trends impacting our industry.
The first one in this series:
Top Applications of Electrification in Tourism
Author: Kayli Anderson, Managing Partner, Synergy Enterprises
The drive to electrify is fast paced. Electric vehicles are not only less carbon intensive and less expensive to operate but eliminate many harmful airborne particulates and pollutants. Emissions from driving an electric car 100 km can be as low as 0.02 kgCO2e while doing the same trip in an average car with an internal combustion engine emits ~24 kgCO2e.
Taxi companies, tour operators, even airlines are joining the transition to electric. In early 2019, Harbour Air announced that they will be making their entire fleet electric. The desire to electrify, however, is outpacing the development of new technologies and infrastructure readiness for wide-spread adoption. Here’s a look at marine and land transportation and the status of their electric solutions.
The available electric motors in marine applications are ideal for smaller vessels used for harbour transport and shore excursions. Electric motor technology such as the Torqeedo electric outboard motors are being used by Maple Leaf Adventures and dozens of other tour operators in Canada. Templar Marine out of Kelowna, BC is manufacturing electric boats that are gaining recognition from operators who are looking for alternatives for water taxis and tours. These electric motors are also much quieter resulting in less disturbance to wildlife and a more tranquil guest experience. Lower emissions, lower operating costs and less noise is a win-win-win for water-based operators. Battery weights may limit adoption in larger, long-distance vessels so watch for liquified natural gas and other hybrid solutions.
Organizations providing courtesy vehicles or using cars for staff and guest transportation can benefit from transitioning to electric to reduce emissions and costs. While there have been successful conversions of shuttle busses the availability and cost of mid and large-size coaches presents a significant barrier for full-fleet adoption. Standardization of charging technologies and increasing grid capacity for regional charging networks are the next hurdles to overcome. For now, inner city, short-haul applications where charging can be done on-site and overnight are best.
As we shift into a low-carbon economy, the adoption of electric technologies will be met with limitations. Infrastructure for charging, batteries and other pieces of the puzzle may prove too difficult to overcome, especially for large fleets. Industry is already looking to other low carbon technologies such as hydrogen to meet their carbon reduction goals. Fleets of the future will be a hybrid of electric, hydrogen, bio-diesel and other low-carbon alternatives.