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Climate strategy for a sustainable future

With its focus on efficiency, innovation and integrative responsibility, DACHSER is creating the conditions for a more sustainable logistics and setting the course for climate protection. In the second part of the interview, Andre Kranke, Head of Corporate Research & Development and Project Manager Climate Protection at DACHSER, reveals the importance of renewable energies and intelligent transport concepts for the logistics company.

You can find the first part of the interview here ›


Mr. Kranke, DACHSER's electricity bill will be higher at the end of 2022 not only because of increased energy costs, but also because the company will only purchase electricity generated from renewable sources next year. A groundbreaking decision?

Andre Kranke:DACHSER has aligned its climate strategy with great conviction to the cornerstones of efficiency, innovation and integrative responsibility. Purchasing exclusively green electricity as early as 2022 shows that we want to contribute to achieving the 2-degree target of the Paris Agreement with concrete measures in a timely manner. The decision to purchase exclusively regeneratively generated electricity in all 42 countries with our own DACHSER branches from January 1, 2022 will indeed increase our electricity bill in the short term. But this step will reduce CO2 emissions, increase demand for green electricity, and thus indirectly strengthen the expansion of renewable innovative energies.“ 

But they also invest directly in the production of renewable energy... 

Andre Kranke: "Yes, we want to provide our roof areas with photovoltaic systems to a much greater extent. From today's output of around 5,000 kWp, we want to get to 20,000 kWp in the next three years, that means quadruple our production output. And this is only the first step.”

What else are you planning?

Andre Kranke: "We still have other roof areas that can also be equipped with PV systems in subsequent years. We want to do this as quickly as possible, but of course we also have to pay attention to the available project capacities. Each installation is a project in itself with a series of technical tests. Implementation requires precise planning and validation, and therefore time. But a number of colleagues are working very intensively with our partners on the implementation."

Is the energy generated on sunny days enough to cover the demand for their facilities and, above all, the new electric cars and trucks?

Andre Kranke: "Unfortunately not. We've already done the math. If we switch completely to electric mobility, our energy consumption will increase extremely. We can't handle that with PV systems on our roofs alone. We will use the electricity we produce, but we will still have to rely on buying green electricity. Supporting the construction of new renewable energies in the form of power purchase agreements is another avenue we are currently exploring.” 

You can find out more about DACHSER's long-term climate protection strategy here ›

Will you also produce and use hydrogen with the green electricity?

Andre Kranke: "We are currently investigating this question with various experts and partners. Here, we are working with Kempten University of Applied Sciences, among others, and DACHSER is also a member of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (DWV), which as an interest group pursues the promotion of a rapid market launch of hydrogen as an energy carrier and of fuel cell technology. These and other partnerships are an important component for actively engaging with the hydrogen economy, driving innovation and testing new H2 technology in daily use at an early stage.

It's already clear that local production at our sites would make the challenge of distributing hydrogen much easier. But the sustainable production of the H2 molecule requires a lot of energy. The economic viability therefore depends very much on the cost of green electricity."

Are fuel cell trucks powered by hydrogen then a better alternative than battery-electric trucks for emission-free long-distance operation?

Andre Kranke: "Maybe. Which of these two zero-emission technologies will make the most economic sense in freight transport in the future and when will be shown by the respective use cases. In any case, we need both types of electric drive to achieve the climate protection targets.”

You take the issue of innovation and climate protection very seriously. At the same time, however, you are also concerned with efficiency measures. For example, for a long time you have completely converted your warehouses to LED lighting and are upgrading the industrial trucks to lithium-ion technology. Can you explain why efficiency plays such a major role in your climate strategy?

Andre Kranke: "Efficiency is a major issue in logistics in general, and one that we have been committed to for a long time, which is why it also plays an important role in our climate strategy. After all, efficient logistics is climate-friendly per se because it means, for example, that empty runs are prevented and therefore fewer trucks have to be used. At DACHSER, for example, we have also been using double-deck loading for several years now, which significantly increases the volumetric loadout. This is not a completely new technology, but it is an important building block for avoiding greenhouse gases in transport in significant quantities."

Another option for transporting freight more efficiently and again saving CO2 is offered by the so-called long trucks. Here also DACHSER is leading the way, despite the fact that the general conditions are not yet ideal and have still not been finally clarified. Why?

Andre Kranke: "Because it is efficient. Where it is legally possible and economically justifiable, we have been using long trucks of various types in different countries for several years now. In Germany, we are currently testing the use of so-called extended semitrailers for food transports. And for cross-border scheduled services between Germany and the Netherlands, two type 3 long truck combinations have been in use since last year (2021). Here alone, the switch from conventional vehicle concepts to the long truck saves 124 trips a year. That's 60,750 kilometers not driven, 20,000 liters less diesel and therefore around 63 tons less greenhouse gases. This is a measure that is usually economically viable, practical and can be implemented quickly.

My wish would be that long trucks would be considered free of transport policy ideology and that their potential to reduce greenhouse gases in the short term would be supported even more by European legislators. Long trucks are a contribution to energy efficiency that will remain important in the future, because zero-emission vehicles with electric drives should also use green electricity sparingly. For the foreseeable future, renewable energies are a valuable commodity that we must use carefully if we want to achieve climate protection targets.”

DACHSER also plans to use significantly more megatrailers in the future in order to be even more efficient for customers on the road...

Andre Kranke: "...and also save CO2 in the process. The megatrailers, also known as lowliners, with the same length and width, they have a deeper and thus somewhat higher usable cargo space and are therefore particularly suitable for high-volume transports. making them more economical and resource-saving than standard trailers, especially for volume transports. This optimizes capacity utilization and at the same time improves the carbon footprint of the transports. Logistical efficiency par excellence... By 2027, we want to have fully completed the conversion to around 680 new megatrailers in Germany, and we also want to have made good progress at European level by then."

In addition to innovation and efficiency, Dachser counts integrative responsibility among the cornerstones of its climate protection strategy. What is behind this third pillar?

Andre Kranke:Integrative responsibility is one of DACHSER's elementary values. It is essential for all employees and our entire business operations in many places. In the context of climate protection, this integrative responsibility is evident in various places. For example, we not only include the CO2 emissions of our own facilities and vehicles in our internal calculations - in the trade, this is referred to as Scope 1 and Scope 2. We also consider ourselves responsible for the greenhouse gases emitted by our transport partners on land, at sea and in the air. These Scope 3 emissions are also part of our carbon footprint, even if we are not always in a position to actively influence them ourselves. Just think of the emissions from cargo planes or container ships.“

Are there other examples of integrative responsibility?

Andre Kranke: "Yes some. For example, we are also committed to sustainable development outside our business model. Since 2005, for example, we have been supporting projects run by the children's charity terre des hommes in South Asia, Latin America and southern Africa. We also want to promote similar partnerships and projects in the area of climate protection. We are currently examining various options here." 

Exciting times. But there are still huge hurdles to be cleared before we can achieve net zero emissions in logistics...  

Andre Kranke: "...yes, but we at DACHSER have set out to remove these hurdles one by one.”

Thank you very much for the interesting interview.

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