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How Green Is That EV?

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This month, we are presenting our annual Green issue of ELEVATOR WORLD. As in years past, we’ve included a full array of articles, reports and feature stories on environmental issues. As you read this issue, you’ll find numerous words and phrases, such as “energy efficiency,” “sustainable service,” “ecological design” and “environmental responsibility” often prefaced by the ever-present prefix “eco.” And throughout the articles that contain these words and phrases, you will read about how this month’s authors feel it will be best to use, specify, design, apply and maintain elevator-industry products in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.

It is fitting and very appropriate for us to again publish an EW issue dedicated to environmental issues, as a great deal has been done to make the best use of the energy consumed by elevators and escalators. And as other industries switch from using fossil fuels to electricity to manufacture and operate their products, this will become even more necessary.

A case in point is what has been happening in the automobile industry, where there is a great deal of effort going into the development and production of electric vehicles (EVs). The switch from internal-combustion vehicles (ICVs) to EVs is increasing each year. In 2012, hybrid vehicles that use a combination of petroleum-based fuels in conjunction with electric power are available from all major auto makers. And large numbers of people are buying these vehicles in spite of their steep initial prices and anticipated very expensive battery-replacement costs. Additionally, many national governments are promoting the use of EVs over ICVs.

It has been postulated that as more people switch from using ICVs to EVs, the increase in demand for electricity will significantly raise the cost to produce it. And as this happens, the cost to consume electricity will increase, as well. Imagine, if you will, what the cost per 1 kWh of electricity, which is currently at around US$0.10-0.15 in the U.S., will become if the majority of automobile owners switch from ICVs to EVs. The increase in the demand for electrical power will be astronomical, and as has been the case with petroleum-based fuels, it, too, might become unsustainable!

Gasoline at US$5.00 a gallon in the U.S. (and much higher than that in some other parts of the world) is a situation most people will not be willing or perhaps even able to bear for too long. Driving EVs when the cost of electricity is low is a very attractive concept. However, as the cost to purchase electrical energy increases in conjunction with the cost to produce it, this current euphoria for EVs will be short lived. In preparation for when this inevitability is upon us, it is important for our industry to be as environmentally responsible and to continue to develop products that are as energy efficient as possible. EW hopes this Green issue will continue to assist EW readers in understanding what our industry is doing in this regard.

In this issue, the operation of hydraulic elevators with reduced energy requirements are covered in articles by Karl Keller of Maxton Engineering Co. and Kjell Johansson of Hydroware Elevation Technology AB. Traction elevator systems are covered by Sasha Bailey of ThyssenKrupp Elevators America, Matt Thompson of Wittur UK and Nickos Spyropoulos of Kleemann. And Orona Industries provides us with an overview of the effort it has expended to have its products certified as being environmentally responsible. Additionally, John Koshak of Elevator Safety Solutions, Inc. brings us up to date on the progress being made by ASME to develop an A17 code section that will cover elevators installed in and specifically designed to service wind towers, which, in response to today’s emphasis on the need to develop alternative means of producing electrical energy, are expected to proliferate throughout North America during the next decade.

From an energy-consumption standpoint, elevators and, to a good degree, escalators are arguably among (if not the) most energy-efficient means of transportation in today’s society. The degree that this is so can be measured and documented. Indeed, this is done on a regular basis. Therefore, the next time you read or hear how green those EVs are, reflect upon the articles included in this month’s issue of EW. I’m sure you will see they pale in comparison to the elevator systems presented here.

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Elevator World | April 2012 Cover

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