Government announces £200m investment in zero emission trucks - Zemo response

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Thu 19 October 2023 View all news

The Government has announced details of the hotly anticipated £200m funding for demonstration projects focused on freight decarbonisation. Four collaborative projects are to be funded involving 370 zero emission HGVs and associated infrastructure across Great Britain.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) contribute around 20% of all UK domestic transport emissions and are acknowledged as a particularly challenging sector to decarbonise, with today’s latest DfT GHG data showing their share of emissions hasn't changed since 1990.

Delivered in partnership with Innovate UK, the £200m Government investment from the zero emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator programme (formerly known as ZERF) will also deliver around 57 refuelling and electric charging sites, providing vital infrastructure to help the haulage sector decarbonise. 

Decarbonisation Minister, Jesse Norman, said: "We’re investing £200m to roll out 370 zero emission trucks, and a further £2.4m to pioneer green tech through the Freight Innovation Fund, as we work closely with the sector to create new jobs, grow the economy and reach net zero by 2050.

"The measures come during a week of action from the Government, including ministers visiting multiple freight stakeholders, to understand how the sector can continue to drive innovation and play a crucial role in creating new jobs, growing the economy and helping the UK get closer to net zero." 

Administered by the Connected Places Catapult, the Freight Innovation Fund (FIF) - a part of the FIF Accelerator – is now open for applications and will help up to 10 small and medium enterprises develop new ways to make freight greener, more efficient and more resilient. The three-year programme aims to scale up and roll out innovative technology across the industry to decarbonise freight.

Nicola Yates OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Connected Places Catapult, said: "Freight is a crucial sector for the UK and contributes around £127 billion to the economy, but it is not without its challenges. Reducing the sector’s carbon footprint, cutting journey times and easing traffic congestion are key areas of focus, alongside the development of efficient and better-connected logistics hubs."

With DfT providing approximately £20m per year in freight revenue grants, the Government will also consider how to boost freight across a variety of modes.

The four projects to be funded under the zero emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator programme are: 

  • Gridserve, who will use their Project Electric Freightway to demonstrate up to 140 battery electric HGVs that will be provided by DAF and Volvo, alongside up to 220 chargers, 70% of which will be open-access.
  • Project Zero Emission North (ZEN) Freight, which will demonstrate up to 70 battery electric and 30 hydrogen fuel HGVs. Eddie Stobart and Royal Mail are just two of the operators participating in this scheme.
  • Voltempo, whose eFREIGHT 2030 project will demonstrate up to 100 battery electric HGVs in partnership with Renault Trucks, Scania and DAF. Marks and Spencer and Menzies Distribution are some of the operators confirmed to be participating.
  • Hydrogen Aggregated Logistics (HyHAUL), led by Protium, which will deploy around 30 hydrogen fuel cell HGVs onto the M4. Through DfT funding, the HGV fleet will be serviced by one fixed hydrogen refuelling station (HRS) and mobile refuelling in two other locations. The project has longer term ambitions to implement two additional permanent hydrogen refuelling stations in Magor and Bridgend, alongside additional hydrogen conversion projects along the M4.  

Commenting on the announcement, Zemo's Chief Executive Andy Eastlake said: "This is the biggest investment in zero emissions ever seen for the crucial - and tough to decarbonise - road freight sector.

"The zero emission HGV and infrastructure demonstrator programme (ZEHID?) may not roll off the tongue like its 'maiden name' ZERF but it certainly ‘does what it says on the tin', putting over 300 battery electric HGVs, 60 hydrogen fuel cell HGVs and a network of 57 recharging and refuelling sites needed to operate them, into service with a wide range of commercial operators.

"Up to now, decarbonising HGVs has really only been possible through the use of low carbon renewable fuels like biodiesel or biomethane, but - as in every other area of road transport - the UK is determined to phase out the sales of new non-zero emission heavy vehicles by 2040.

"For the longest and heaviest trucks the choice of zero emission technology and fuelling infrastructure has been long debated, and truckers - more than anyone else, perhaps - will only recognise progress when they see the ‘rubber hit the road’. The new programme will be vital in building confidence in the zero emissions technology that is now becoming commercially available.

"Like previous road freight demonstration programmes (LCTT and LEFT), these wide ranging projects will be closely and independently monitored with regular dissemination of progress and results, in this case led by a team from Ricardo UK.

"Zemo Partnership has been pleased to support the DfT and Innovate UK in developing the programme from its earliest conception and will continue to contribute to it via several targeted groups.  Zemo's Commercial Vehicle Working Group will be keeping abreast of all the developments in this exciting, long-term demonstration trial."

Related News: The Government's 'Freight Week' also sees a call for evidence to inform and support the development of the zero emission HGV and coach infrastructure strategy which is due to be published in 2024.


Image: Courtesy Gridserve


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