A new study outlining the cost and infrastructural requirements to support a zero-emission heavy goods vehicle fleet in the UK by 2050 has been published by Ricardo, a global strategic engineering and environmental consultancy that specialises in the transport, energy and scarce resources sectors, headquartered in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, UK. The study was commissioned by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change as part of research for its ‘Net Zero’ report.
To meet the UK Government’s proposed decarbonisation targets, heavy goods vehicles need to become net zero emission by 2050. With electric and hydrogen vehicles emerging as viable alternatives to diesel in the passenger car fleet, the most cost-effective route to decarbonising the heavy-duty vehicle sector is not straight forward, Ricardo stated. Policy makers need a full understanding of the entire ecosystem that will enable net zero emission heavy goods vehicle transport to become a reality.
A range of infrastructure types were considered in the study, including refuelling stations for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles; depot-based chargers and ultra-rapid charge points at strategic locations for battery electric vehicles; electric road system infrastructure – specifically overhead catenaries for battery electric or battery hybrid vehicles; and hybrid solutions combining elements of the above.
The outputs of the study have led the Committee on Climate Change to recommend the Government to make decisions on how heavy goods vehicles will be decarbonised by the second half of the 2020s, due to lead times on infrastructure and turnover of vehicle stocks. Following the results of this infrastructure study, further work is required to investigate vehicle costs and electricity network upgrade costs to formulate a full understanding of the most cost-effective route for the shift to zero emission heavy goods vehicles.
In addition to estimating the infrastructure costs for net zero emission heavy goods vehicles, the project also considered issues around build rates and other infrastructure changes needed to deliver these scenarios. Identification of these challenges is expected to help policy makers consider the broader implications of the deployment of various types of infrastructure, facilitating well-informed decision-making.
The study highlighted that implementing infrastructure that would support zero emission heavy-duty vehicles is achievable, but consideration needs to be made for a number of key challenges including: planning, co-ordination, supply chains, resource and materials, a skilled workforce and a strong government policy to enable the market to deliver.
Denis Naberezhnykh, Ricardo’s Technical Director for Sustainable Transport, stated, “Transitioning to zero emission heavy goods vehicles will be necessary for the UK to meet its challenging decarbonisation targets, in line with the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. Ricardo used its extensive technical and analytical capability, and ability to engage with the different industry sectors, in carrying out this complex and market-leading research.”
“Our analysis of the infrastructure requirements and costs for the different technology options to support such transition has shown that annualised costs of infrastructure and fuel for all scenarios are lower than the diesel-baseline,” he stated. “This study identifies that as well as a significant environmental benefit, there is also an economic opportunity from decarbonising the heavy goods vehicle sector.”
The full Ricardo report, Zero Emission HGV Infrastructure Requirements, is available on the Committee on Climate Change’s website.