Södra Launches Major Initiative to Electrify Transportation

Nov. 25, 2022 - Södra is now launching a major initiative to electrify the operation’s transportation. A new project will study the future potential to operate electric-powered trucks, forklifts and loaders that can help further reduce the association’s fossil-fuel emissions.

Södra is currently a net producer of electricity and is aiming to reach net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2040. A natural step in this process is to electrify the vehicle fleet and operations. Parts of the mills’ vehicle fleet already run on electricity, including electric forklifts at the Värö and Långasjö sawmills. This work will now enter the next phase and Södra is launching a project for the large-scale electrification of internal and external transportation.

The project includes the electrification of logging and chip trucks in Södra’s own haulage business as well as vehicles at mills. It will also clarify which vehicles and type of charging equipment are suitable for Södra’s various units and how infrastructure and logistics should be planned. Furthermore, the project includes a study of how electrification can take place in a safe manner and how future business models should be designed to create the right conditions for large-scale electrification.

Large-scale electrification reduces fossil-fuel emissions

“Södra is one of Sweden’s largest freight purchasers and transportation accounts for the largest share of our fossil-fuel emissions." - Henrik Brodin, Head of Energy, Södra  The aim is to electrify large parts of the vehicle fleet and further reduce fossil-fuel emissions. Every day, 1,000 of journeys are made by heavy road transports from Södra members’ forests to the mills. Moreover, the mills are operating at historically high levels.

“Södra is one of Sweden’s largest freight purchasers and transportation accounts for the largest share of our fossil-fuel emissions. This is why large-scale electrification is an important piece of the puzzle, together with liquid biofuel, to reduce our fossil-fuel emissions and to further contribute to society’s climate transition,” said Henrik Brodin, who is Head of Energy and responsible for the ‘A Fossil-free Södra’ project.

Södra wants to lead the electrification of truck transportation

Closest to hand is the continued electrification of internal transportation, where most of Södra’s internal forklift fleet will be replaced by the next generation of electric forklifts. The time horizon for external truck transportation is longer, involves more operators and makes new demands on business models.

If electrification is to succeed, an expansion is needed of charging infrastructure at Södra’s own units and across Götaland. Södra’s own haulage operations will be a driving force in these developments together with strategic partners. The project is part of the ‘A Fossil-free Södra’ project and will run until 2025. The ambition is thereafter to pursue the transition as part of regular operations.

“Today, we are a net producer of electricity, which means will could become self-sufficient in fossil-free electricity for our own transportation needs,” Bodin said. “This is a long-term and ambitious target, but it is important that we aim for this goal. It will require a systemic change in infrastructure, vehicles and energy supply. It is a major challenge and requires all participants to continue working together to create the right conditions.”

Founded in 1938, Södra is Sweden’s largest forest-owner association, with 52,000 forest owners as its members. In 2021, net sales amounted to SEK 27 billion and employees totaled 3,100.