Fuel for thought - The drive is on to begin the big switch from diesel to electric and clean fuel-powered farm machinery
A core part of the Government's Climate Action Plan will be the transition from diesel and petrol engines to electric power and biofuels over the next decade.
The target is to have one million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, but to date, the switch to electric power has been slow to take off in Ireland. And there has been little in the way of clear proposals from the Government about how the diesel-hungry agri sector will take on the challenge of cutting transport emissions.
Its seems inevitable, however, that the day will come when farmers will need to make a transition to alternative fuels.
Farmers currently have limited viable options to replace their diesel engines.
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However, this might be starting to change. At Agritechnica 2019 in Germany, the increased emphasis on a transition to alternative fuels was one of the big trends at the world's largest agri technology show.
This week, we look at some of the options currently available for climate-conscious farmers who want to be one step ahead of the game in this area.
FARESIN ELECTRIC TELEHANDLER
A relative newcomer to the Telehandler market, Italian brand Faresin had a fully electric option on display.
Available to purchase in the next month, the company says, depending on the battery selected, it has a working time of between six to eight hours.
The machine comes with a standard charger on board and the battery takes 10 hours to recharge in full.
However, the optional fast charger will fully recharge the machine in as little as one hour.
Faresin says the machine is more or less the same as its standard telehandler except there is no engine.
One of the only major differences is the speed, which has been limited to 15km/hr to maintain longer working times.
The machine has a 2.6t lift capacity and 6m reach, and will cost about 30pc more than a diesel version.
Faresin also said the maintenance cost will be 60pc lower than with a regular telehandler.
EVUM MOTORS - 4x4 ELECTRIC UTV
The designers in German company Evum Motors say that before electrically driven tractors come into large-scale use, smaller utility vehicles will conquer their market like its aCar, which the company presented at the show.
The aCar features an all-electric four-wheel drive. With a weight of 1,100kg, it can transport loads of up to 1,000kg. The vehicle's battery supports ranges of as much as 200km with a top speed of 70km/h. Accessories such as a trailer hitch, a winch or attachments like the "municipal triangle" are available.
Series production is planned to begin in early 2020. The aCar can be pre-ordered immediately on the EVUM homepage.
The model on display at the show is set to retail at €45,000, but less expensive models will also be available.
NEW HOLLAND - METHANE POWERED TRACTOR
New Holland displayed the world's first T6 Methane Power Tractor which was crowned Sustainable Tractor of the Year 2020.
In real field conditions, the T6 Methane Power Tractor produces 99pc less particulate matter than an equivalent diesel and reduces CO2 emissions by minimum 10pc and overall emissions by 80pc.
Despite this, the company claims the machine delivers the performance of its diesel equivalent - the same power at 180hp, torque at 740Nm, and durability - with the added advantage of up to 30pc lower running costs.
On the T6 Methane Power Tractor, the gas tanks are stored in the same position as the diesel tanks on the standard T6 model.
For those seeking to extend the working hours, a 'Range Extender' is available as an option. It can be mounted on the front linkage or weight carrier, or on the rear linkage for loader work. The tractor is also fitted with gas connection points at the front and rear, enabling additional fuel storage that could be mounted on trailers and implements.
The Austrian tractor brand Steyr unveiled its concept hybrid tractor, comprising a combustion engine, a generator and several electric motors.
All electric motors are networked so that power is always available where it is needed most for the situation at hand. An e-torque boost, fed from a central battery, supplies additional energy at peak power. The result of this system is a highly efficient electric continuously variable drive. A mechanical transmission and hydraulic components in the powertrain are therefore surplus to requirements.
Steyr says this ensures fewer moving parts, better energy flow and fewer power and energy losses.
The tractor's hydraulics and PTO are electrically driven, with the latter allowing variable motor speeds as well as reversing. 700 V and 48 V connections are available for electrical implements.
The option of recovering and storing energy when descending slopes, for example, is another benefit of electric motors. The motors can also be charged at the plug socket.
In purely electric mode, the tractor emits zero-emissions driving in relation to both exhaust emissions and noise pollution.
JCB ELECTRIC TELESCOPIC FORKLIFT
JCB displayed its all-new electric telescopic forklift, the Teletruk.
The machine features a turning circle of just 5m and is ideal for indoor and tight spaces. JCB says the machine will run for a full eight-hour shift and it takes just two minutes to replace the battery for an entire 24/7 operation.
At two metres forward reach, the Teletruk 30-19E has 1900kg lift capacity, while the heavier-lifting 35-22E manages 2,200kg.
All hydraulic functions, as well as speed and forward/reverse selection, are controlled using a single joystick, and essential performance information, such as battery life and ground speed and Load Motion Control status, are displayed at easy-to-read eye level.
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