No route to de-carbonising HGVs until 2030

21 November 2016

Conventional vehicle improvements will continue to be the best way to reduce HGV fleet emissions up to 2030, an analyst told Supply Management.

Significant emissions savings can still be made, however, through the wider use of heat recovery systems, low rolling resistance tyres and weight reduction, Ellie Davies, senior analyst for surface transport at the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) she said.

“With HGVs, we’re not sure there’s going to be a route to de-carbonising that sector as efficiently until after 2030, because you’re waiting to see what other technologies come online,” she said.

In its Carbon Budget report published last year, the CCC, a statutory body, said these conventional vehicle improvements could reduce the CO2 emissions from new vehicles by nearly a quarter of 2010 levels by 2030.

After 2030, existing technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells, may be cost efficient, and new technologies such as carbon capture and storage could become economical, according to the report.

Van fleets, said Davies, were expected to play a more immediate part in meeting the UK’s climate targets, and that there was more scope for fleet operators to consider electrification now. “We tend to think of vans as quite different from HGVs, because vans are a lot more easy to electrify,” she said.

They travel shorter distances compared to HGVs, and only need relatively small batteries. CCC hopes to see 60% of smaller fleet vehicles either plug-in hybrids or fully electric by 2030.

While CCC is encouraging van operators to consider the potential savings electric engines could bring, Davies said that most fleet operators were already looking to adopt conventional vehicle improvements. “You don’t need to incentivise that because a fleet operator will be looking for the least petrol costs,” she said.

Reports that CCC had calling for all diesel lorries to be scrapped and replaced had misinterpreted a calls for stricter efficiency standards, she added.

In the UK, transportation - including land, aviation and shipping - accounts for 21% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of that, HGVs account for 22% and vans 14%.

CCC was created as part of the Climate Change Act 2008 to advices the UK government and devolved administrations on how to meet its target of an 80% reduction in emissions on 1990 levels.

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