Government pushes road freight greening with £20m funding boost

The UK government is encouraging fleet operators to convert their heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to battery-powered alternatives with a £20m funding boost for real-world trials and demonstrations.

The funding will go towards trials of zero-emission road freight vehicles and supporting infrastructure, paid for by the Department for Transport and managed by Innovate UK.

The six successful projects include a trial and demonstration of 20 electric DAF trucks by Leyland Trucks intended for public sector use; a trial of a 20km-long stretch of “electric road system” by Costain near Scunthorpe, and a green hydrogen truck feasibility study by Arcola Energy focused on Scottish transport.

Scotland minister Iain Stewart said of the hydrogen truck study: “It’s great news that a study involving Scottish utility, logistics companies and the University of St Andrews to design a potential trial for hydrogen fuel cell trucks and new refuelling infrastructure has received a share of £20 million UK government funding. The UK government’s transport decarbonisation plan will help the country build back greener from COVID-19. With Glasgow firmly on the world stage later this year for the COP26 summit, these projects are vital to showing how the UK is innovating to help save the planet.”

Richard Kemp-Harper, Strategy Director at Arcola Energy, added: “We’re pleased to be leading this initiative to decarbonise heavy-duty transport. The study will enable us to expand the application of Arcola Energy’s A-Drive fuel cell powertrain platform to a critical group of HGV operators that can benefit from Scotland’s strong potential for green hydrogen production.”

Rob Lawton, a Leyland Trucks project manager, said: “We’re delighted to have been selected to play such a key role in the initiative and we’re proud to be leading the drive towards a cleaner, more sustainable future for the road transport industry. We believe our LF Electric and CF Electric vehicles offer the best solution for zero-emissions operation and we’re confident that the results from our NHS and local authority partners will support our own extensive and long-term testing programmes.”

The government hopes that the trials will enable knowledge to be gathered by field-testing vehicles in real-world, real-time logistics environments and give fleet operators the confidence to convert to electric vehicles.

Earlier this month, the government published its transport decarbonisation plan, which includes consultations on pledges to end the sale of new diesel and petrol HGVs and reach net-zero domestic flights by 2040.

“Through our bold and ambitious transport decarbonisation plan, we’re leading the way in the transition to zero emission vehicles by becoming the first country in the world to commit to ending the sale of all new fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2040, subject to consultation,” said the transport secretary Grant Shapps. “From Doncaster to Scotland, by working in partnership with industry, this funding will allow us to better understand the role of zero-emission HGVs.”

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