The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced funding of more than £200 million for a zero-emission road freight demonstrator programme.
It says this will allow ‘the world’s largest fleet of zero emission HGVs to take to UK roads through plans to achieve cleaner air and greener jobs, while helping to keep costs down on consumer goods’.
The three-year comparative programme will begin later this year to help decarbonise the UK’s freight industry with initial competitions for battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology launching soon.
The demonstrations will help gather evidence on the future refuelling and recharging infrastructure needed to drive the smooth transition to a zero-emission freight sector by 2050.
Speaking at business group Logistics UK’s Future Logistics Conference today, Transport minister Trudy Harrison said: “Our road freight industry is one of the most efficient in the world and contributes over £13 billion to the UK economy each year. But we must accelerate our journey towards our net zero goals, and we’re committed to leading the way globally on non-zero emission road vehicles.”
She added: ‘Our ambitious plans will continue to ensure food is stocked on the shelves and goods are supplied while eliminating fossil fuels from HGVs and making our freight sector green for good.”
The demonstrations aim to help the UK’s freight sector reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by finding which zero emission technologies are best suited to the heaviest road vehicles in the UK.
An open-call competition will be launched for manufacturers, energy providers and fleet and infrastructure operators to showcase their green technology on UK roads. This will begin with demonstrations of battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell HGVs.
The announcement expands the Department for Transport’s (DfT) £20 million zero emission road freight trials which ran last year, delivered by Innovate UK.
As part of these trials, commercial vehicle manufacturer Leyland Trucks rolled out 20 DAF battery electric HGVs for use by public sector organisations, including the NHS and local authorities, to support the uptake of battery electric trucks, enabling learning to be gathered from field testing vehicles in a real-world, real-time logistics environment.
This project, along with six successful feasibility studies, helped prepare for the demonstrations, which will take place at scale over the coming years.
Logistics UK said the right supporting infrastructure, including refuelling networks and sufficient power supply, must be in place for these vehicles to offer real world alternatives to diesel HGVs.
Acting deputy director of policy, Michelle Gardner, said: “Logistics businesses are committed to decarbonising their operations, but to ensure a smooth transition, they need clarity on the path to zero tailpipe emission HGVs; the trials announced today will play a crucial role in identifying the right technological solutions to help enable this.
“Now, Logistics UK is urging the Government to ensure the necessary supporting infrastructure and regulatory framework will be in place to make the use of these vehicles feasible for logistics businesses.”
Harrison also today announced the publication of a call for evidence on derogations to the 2035 phase out for HGVs weighing 26 tonnes or over, saying: “We should not impose change in the wrong place, on the wrong vehicle, on the wrong journey at the wrong time.”