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Power to the RCV

What is green and saves money? Geesink Norba (GN) will say its range of plug-in electric RCVs, which has won numerous accolades, including one for Best New Technology at the National Recycling Awards earlier this year. Since the first vehicle went into action on the streets of Westminster in 2009, GN says the vehicles have become an attractive option for operators across the UK.

The reason is that the two key selling points of the vehicle - reduced carbon emissions and reduced fuel costs - are two of the most important drivers when operators have to decide which vehicles to invest in.

They work by using electrical power to operate the energy-thirsty lifting, crushing, compacting and tipping systems of RCVs. A dedicated rechargeable battery mounted behind the cab powers these mechanisms, holding enough charge to work efficiently all day on the most demanding of rounds.

Batteries are recharged from either mains electricity supply or by power take-off (PTO) from the diesel engine while the vehicle is operational. Using PTO to convert diesel into electricity to power the body is far more efficient than using the diesel engine directly. The electric motor only uses the energy required for any task, and the body can often be operated with the diesel engine switched off. But the same task in a conventional vehicle requires the diesel engine to rev up beforehand and it then continues running even after the task has been finished.

Similar efficiency savings can be made when the electricity to power the body originates from the mains. This may introduce an additional source of carbon emissions when electricity is generated from fossil fuels. But electricity is increasingly being generated from sources with zero carbon emissions, such as wind energy, while increased energy costs are making electricity generation by operators a more attractive option.

If the green principles of plug-in electric vehicles are attractive, GN says the savings are compelling. Independent analysis of fuel consumption shows savings are typically between 20 and 30% and sometimes significantly more. The vehicles’ own Eurovim systems monitor and report consumption, which enables GN to fine-tune RCVs and train drivers to get the optimum performance.

In practice, a conventional RCV will typically cover 15,000 miles a year, and in a lifespan of seven years would drive 105,000 miles. With operators allowing for fuel use of around 2mpg, one vehicle would consume around 52,500 gallons. Based on 27.5% fuel savings as found in the most comprehensive independent study to date, GN says a plug-in electric vehicle could save 14,435 gallons of diesel in seven years, reducing the carbon footprint by 173 tonnes. And based on diesel at £1/litre, conservative estimates produce savings of £65,000 over a vehicle’s lifespan.

Another key feature of the RCV is noise reduction. The lifting, crushing and compacting cycles are battery powered which makes them virtually silent, in contrast with the increased revving required for such operations in conventional diesel vehicles. Analysis shows an overall noise reduction of up to 20% in comparison with comparable conventional vehicles while engines are running.

With diesel engines off, the electric motor produces a quiet hum. This increases the potential to operate the vehicle outside normal hours without causing disturbance.

The plug-in electric technology can be applied to GN’s full RCV range, working with any chassis and the full spectrum of bin-lifting equipment, without any reduction in speed or efficiency.

The award-winning vehicles were tried, tested and fine-tuned in Sweden for more than six years before launching in the UK. But they are now a familiar sight on roads from Scotland to London and on the continent from Paris to Barcelona.

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