Transition to Zero-Emission Transport – A Pathway for Long-Haul Heavy Goods Vehicles

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) represent the backbone of trade and commerce across the world. They are responsible for ensuring we have access to food, medicines, and goods of all kinds, but they also contribute significantly to climate change. In 2019, HGVs were responsible for 16% of UK domestic transport greenhouse gas emissions, and for the UK to meet its Net Zero commitment by 2050, these emissions need to be reduced to zero over the coming decades.

Connected Places Catapult has been working alongside the Department for Transport to investigate the options for decarbonising transport and in particular long-haul HGVs. The report below provides a summary of our findings, and presents a pathway for moving the UK toward zero-emission road freight.

HGVs are amongst the most challenging vehicles to decarbonise, due to their high-power requirements and long distances travelled with little downtime. However, promising options are being developed including hydrogen fuel cell HGVs and Electric Road Systems (where major roads are electrified, similar to rail electrification).

The first stage in the transition will be to carry out large-scale demonstrations of the technologies to provide evidence on their costs, performance, reliability and suitability. Demonstrations will also stimulate development and production of zero-emission HGVs for the UK, help to establish supply chains, enable UK-based expertise to flourish and improve trust in the technology.

Our work to date has helped to secure the first tranche of funding for zero-emission ‘freight trials’ in the UK, as announced in The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. This funding will support a competition for in-depth planning, design and pre-deployment studies for a future large-scale freight demonstration.

For further information about the competition, register for the KTN briefing webinar on Tuesday 23rd March 2021.

Nicola Yates OBE, Chief Executive of Connected Places Catapult, said:

“Achieving UK and global targets for Net Zero will be the defining challenge of the next three decades, and a central driver of innovation and change across all sectors. Connected Places Catapult are proud to be working alongside government, industry, and academia to help tackle this challenge head on. For heavy goods vehicles, we believe this document represents the start of a cleaner future, and provides a focus for all stakeholders to come together. We need to leverage the talents of the UK supply chain and work alongside our international partners to develop a system of moving freight that is sustainable for the future.”

For access to further evidence and analysis, please email ZeroEmissionRoadFreight@cp.catapult.org.uk

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