Blog| Truck & Van20th June 2024

Decarbonizing Transportation: Driving Toward a More Sustainable Future

The transportation sector, particularly the trucking industry, is a major contributor to global carbon emissions, with trucks accounting for a substantial portion of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, it presents both a challenge and an opportunity for electrification. At the recent Road Transport Expo, the urgency of decarbonizing trucks was highlighted through various discussions and innovative showcases. 

The Environmental Implications of Truck-Dominated Logistics 

Trucks are indispensable for the global supply chain, responsible for transporting a substantial portion of goods across various regions. However, this comes at a significant environmental cost. In 2019, trucks emitted approximately 1.1 billion metric tons of CO2 globally, largely contributing to air pollution and climate change.  

The United Kingdom's reliance on trucks for transporting goods significantly outweighs its use of rail. Approximately 89% of all goods transported within the UK are moved by road, with only about 11% being transported by rail. In the United States, trucks carry around 79% of all domestic freight, significantly overshadowing rail, which handles only 9% of freight traffic.  

This heavy reliance on trucks underscores the urgency of addressing their environmental impact. The primary source of truck emissions is the combustion of diesel fuel, releasing substantial amounts of harmful gases into our atmosphere. However, there are now several strategies to aid in the decarbonization of transportation. 

Electrifying Opportunities  

One of the most promising strategies for decarbonizing trucks is electrification. Electric trucks or e-trucks are becoming increasingly viable thanks to advancements in battery technology. Companies like Daimler, DAF, and Volvo are leading the way in developing e-trucks that can handle long distance routes. These advancements are crucial for the logistics industry, where the ability to cover extensive distances efficiently is essential. 

Despite these technological advancements, significant challenges remain, particularly regarding infrastructure development. A robust and widespread network of charging stations is essential to support the widespread adoption of e-trucks. Currently, the infrastructure for charging heavy-duty vehicles is insufficient, especially in rural and remote areas. 

Building a comprehensive charging network requires substantial investment. This includes not only the installation of charging stations but also upgrading the existing electrical grid to handle the increased load. High-capacity chargers needed for e-trucks can place significant demands on local power systems, necessitating enhancements to ensure reliability and efficiency. 

A significant investment is needed to build a large network of charging stations that are suitable for trucks. Continued research and development is also a big factor in reducing charging times, and lowering costs to make e-trucks a more competitive alternative. 

Policy and Regulatory Framework 

Another crucial factor in the decarbonization of transportation are the various policy and regulatory frameworks. Many countries are committed to international agreements and have set out national targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, effective implementation and enforcement of these policies are needed if we want to achieve the desired emissions reductions. 

Governments worldwide are playing a vital role in facilitating this transition by offering various incentives and grants to encourage the adoption of e-trucks. These incentives help companies offset the higher initial costs associated with e-trucks, making them a more attainable option for fleet operators. 

United States: The U.S. government has introduced several initiatives to promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), including e-trucks. The Biden administration has set an ambitious target to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, with a $15 billion investment dedicated to this effort. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy offers various grants and funding opportunities to support the development and deployment of electric truck technologies. 

European Union: The EU has implemented stringent emissions regulations, such as the European Green Deal, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. To support this goal, the EU offers substantial subsidies and incentives for electric trucks and charging infrastructure. For example, the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (AFID) mandates the establishment of an adequate number of publicly accessible charging stations. 

United Kingdom: The UK government has committed to banning the sale of new petrol and diesel trucks by 2040 as part of its Transport Decarbonization Plan. To facilitate this transition, the government offers grants through the Plug-in Truck Grant scheme, which provides financial support for purchasing electric trucks. Additionally, the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) provides funding for charging infrastructure to ensure widespread availability of charging points. 

Decarbonizing trucks involves a multi-layered approach, including electrification, operational efficiency, and innovative technologies. Global policies and collaborative efforts play a crucial role in driving this transition. It is important that we begin to support the decarbonization of trucks, businesses, and individuals to advocate for policy changes, adopt greener practices, and stay informed about the latest developments in sustainable transportation.  

Several businesses are already planning and transitioning their truck fleets to electric. Amazon has made huge strides in rolling out its electric truck fleet and is leveraging renewable energy sources and AI to support battery energy storage. Swedish retailer IKEA has also begun integrating e-trucks into its delivery operations and aims to have an entirely electric delivery fleet by 2025.  These industry leaders are demonstrating the importance of early adoption and leading the way in truck electrification. 

The future of trucking is prepared for a sustainable transformation. By adopting these innovations, working together and with the support of government initiatives and funding we can enable fleets of all sizes to electrify their truck fleets. Together we can significantly help to reduce the carbon footprint of our transportation sector and pave the way for a greener future. 

Decarbonising Trucks