Road freight goes green with £20 million funding boost

  • £20 million funding boost to accelerate the rollout of zero-emission road freight
  • successful projects include the trial and demonstration of 20 battery-electric DAF trucks by Leyland Trucks, an electric road system feasibility study in Yorkshire and a green hydrogen truck feasibility study focused on Scotland
  • announcement follows the government’s transport decarbonisation plan, in which a consultation on phase out dates for the sale of new non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles was launched

Funding to boost the UK’s transition to zero emission road freight, supporting industry and creating jobs has been announced today (27 July 2021).

Pioneering £20 million zero emission road freight trials, funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by Innovate UK, will help to develop innovative solutions to support the uptake of zero emission trucks.

Using learning from field testing battery-electric vehicles in a real-world environment, and from undertaking feasibility studies, these activities will help to design and develop cost-effective, zero emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and their refuelling infrastructure right here in the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

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 road vehicles by 2040, subject to consultation. 

From Doncaster to Scotland, by working in partnership with industry, this funding will allow us to better understand the role of zero emission HGVs while levelling up the industry and boosting regional economies.

Successful projects include an ‘Electric Road System’ feasibility study, led by Costain Ltd, considering a 20-kilometre stretch of road near Scunthorpe for a possible trial of electric road systems. Electric Road Systems supply battery-electric trucks with electricity from overhead catenaries via a pantograph enabling HGVs to charge dynamically.

Meanwhile, a hydrogen fuel cell feasibility study, led by Arcola Energy Ltd, will design a possible future trial of hydrogen fuel cell trucks and new refuelling infrastructure in Scotland.

These projects, along with 4 other successful feasibility studies, aim to prepare for a potential demonstration of zero emission freight technologies at scale on UK roads and will support the rollout of zero emission technologies to decarbonise heavy transport vehicles.

Commercial vehicle manufacturing company Leyland Trucks will be deploying 20 DAF battery-electric trucks for use by public sector organisations 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. The investment in an interactive tool will de-risk, aid and encourage fleet operators to convert to battery-electric vehicles. This is an important step in the transition to zero emission road freight.

This announcement follows the launch of government’s transport decarbonisation plan along with the consultation on a phase out date for new non-zero emission HGVs - showcasing our ongoing support for industry to develop new and innovative technologies that will help the UK to meet net zero by 2050.

UK government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:

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.

Rob Lawton, Project Manager, at Leyland Trucks, 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.

Richard Kemp-Harper, Strategy Director at Arcola Energy, said:

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.

William Wilson, CEO of Siemens Mobility Limited, said:

Investing in proven technologies like eHighways can help us go further and faster to decarbonise the UK’s transport network, and support jobs and growth to level up the country.

By building on successful trials from other countries like Germany, our ERS consortium M180 trial will help the UK move a step closer to replacing more polluting trucks with clean, efficient electric HGVs.

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