|One of the new hybrid vans. Click to enlarge.|
Verizon will soon begin a pilot project using 13 GMC 2500 service vans retrofitted with Enova hybrid drive systems. The vans, which have FiOS (high-speed fiber-optic service) and green-energy markings on them, will serve some of Verizon’s FiOS Internet and TV customers in Maryland and Texas.
The gasoline-electric hybrids could improve fuel economy by up to 50% over conventional service vans, and have the potential to reduce emissions by 70% to 90%, according to Verizon.
Verizon is the first major company to retrofit service vehicles in the van class with hybrid-power technology.
These retrofitted FiOS vans will allow us to evaluate hybrid technology. More importantly, as an operator of one of the largest private motor vehicle fleets in the US, we hope to send a message to automotive manufacturers that they should be manufacturing hybrid vehicles in all classes. There is a market here, especially for companies like Verizon that seek to minimize the environmental impact of their operations.—Kathryn Brown, Verizon senior vice president of public policy development and corporate responsibility
The vans use a 120 kW Enova post-transmission system—one in which the electric drive system is integrated behind the transmission and is designed to be installed as a drop-in, fully integrated turnkey fashion into an OEM production line, or retrofitted in post vehicle production.
The system does not intrude on, or require any alteration to the engine control/communication system, thus avoiding any emissions certification issues. The system monitors, but does not impact anything that exists within the existing engine.
The charge-sustaining system utilizes relatively small batteries which are maintained within a specified range of State of Charge (SOC) over the entire drive cycle. Battery charge is maintained by the on-board equipment and is not normally recharged from the grid except as needed for cell balancing. Depending on the route, fuel economy miles per gallon (mpg) improvement is from 30% to 55% or better for a Post Transmission Charge Sustaining System.
Verizon has several alternative electricity generation and conservation projects underway as well. Examples include:
Micro turbine engines for distributed power generation. Two California central offices use micro turbines fired by natural gas to generate electricity. The micro turbines, which were installed in the first quarter of 2006, provide approximately 50% of the electricity required in each central office. Combined, the systems will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 6.6 thousand metric tons per year, or the equivalent of taking 1,400 passenger cars off the road for one year.
Hypalon roofs. Hypalon membrane roofing uses a highly reflective surface and increased insulation to improve energy efficiency. Hypalon roofs are EPA Energy Star approved and, when combined with increased insulation, reduce overall building heating and cooling requirements, compared with buildings with standard roofing materials. Verizon has installed more than 600 Hypalon roofs to date in company buildings in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Texas, and is studying the value of expanding the program throughout the company’s service territory.
Fuel cells. In 2005, Verizon launched the first major trial of fuel cell power generation at its switching center and office building in Garden City, NY The project—the largest of its kind in the country—consists of seven fuel cells manufactured by UTC Power, each of which is capable of generating 200 kW of electrical power per hour.
By using electricity generated by the fuel cells as the primary power source at the Garden City facility and reclaiming the heat and water the cells produce to help heat and cool the building, Verizon will annually eliminate approximately 5,440 metric tons of carbon dioxide that otherwise would have been emitted into the atmosphere, or the equivalent of 1,200 passenger cars not driven during one year. In addition, during the first year of operation, Verizon saved more than $600,000 by not having to obtain power from the commercial power grid.