Local engineering and manufacturing firm Advanced Technology & Research Corp. has just installed three “tracking” solar units at roll-on roll-off shipping and logistics giant Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics’ Mid-Atlantic Terminal (MAT) facility at the Port of Baltimore to power two all-electric vehicles. WWL operates nearly 60 vessels around the world and calls the Port of Baltimore several times per week, making it the company’s largest port operation in North America.
WWL’s Mid-Atlantic Terminal uses the two GEM electric vehicles (EVs) to transport employees and materials around its marine terminal facility. Once fully charged, the EVs can run three to five days before recharging is necessary, said Michael Derby, WWL’s general manager for North Atlantic Operations - Ocean, Terminal and Environmental Affairs. “We hope the energy produced by the solar trackers can offset completely the power needed to operate the EVs,” he said.
And if this works out, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics will consider deploying more trackers. “We hope to prove that the concept works with these initial trackers, and then our goal would be to adopt the concept at other facilities,” Derby said. “As an environmental forerunner in the maritime industry, we are pleased to undertake this initiative as part of our energy-efficient and emissions-reduction programs,” he added.
“We are very pleased that Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics has chosen to work with ATR and utilize our tracking solar arrays as part of its renewable energy initiatives,” said Dr. Jackson Yang, ATR’s founder and CEO. “We are confident that the company will benefit from these small, high-performance solar devices, he added.
ATR is a 38-year-old engineering and manufacturing company based in Columbia, Md. Initial production of the tracking devices was supported by a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration.
Maryland’s business development agency, which works to promote the Port, also reacted positively. “The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development is pleased to support this partnership between Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and ATR in employing more sustainable practices at our world-class Port of Baltimore,” said Secretary Christian S. Johansson. “This is an outstanding example of how, working together, we can create new jobs and new opportunities in Maryland’s green industry and preserve our communities.”
The dual-panel, post-mounted solar units (“Dual-Panel-Trackers”) that are providing power employ a GPS-enabled mechanism to follow the sun and produce 25 to 45 percent more electricity per day than conventional fixed solar panels, said Robert Lundahl, ATR’s vice president for energy and automation. Because they’re being used specifically for EVs, these particular DPTs incorporate car-charging units in each post on which the solar panels are mounted, he added.
The DPTs are suitable for both residential and commercial use, especially for situations in which roof-mounted panels are not a good option, says Lundahl. “The DPT system is a good example of distributed power generation in which the energy is produced locally rather than from a remote source,” cutting down significantly on power transmission losses, said Lundahl.
Beyond clean energy production, says Lundahl, the DPTs offer additional potential for messaging through snap-on covers on both sides of the tracking mount. “These easily changed side panels can be used for corporate identification, information display, sponsorship recognition, or even revenue-generating advertising,” Lundahl says.