TNB News

Finance and fleets key for decarbonisation

23 November 2023 #TNB News

This week, I attended two industry conferences in Birmingham, both centred around the crucial topic of decarbonisation. These events provided a valuable platform for fleet operators, who demonstrated a keen interest in gathering information and insights from pioneers already embarked on the journey to achieve net-zero emissions.

A key takeaway from the conferences was the emphasis on fleet operators, whether in the bus or truck sector, considering battery electric vehicles due to their superior energy efficiency in power production. However, if the range or payload limitations render BEVs less effective for some use cases, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles can be a viable alternative – although Britain must ensure it has an adequate and consistent supply of hydrogen fuel across the entire UK.

Notably, the recent government announcement allocating £200 million for investment in four innovative green projects is a significant milestone. This funding is allocated to facilitate the deployment of up to 370 zero-emission Heavy Goods Vehicles HGVs, comprising 310 battery electric vehicles and 60 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. This marks a pivotal moment, signalling the imminent take-off of zero-emission trucks, complemented by crucial investments in charging infrastructure and hydrogen refuelling stations.

Furthermore, last week’s announcement that £2 billion has been earmarked for the automotive industry supporting the manufacturing, supply chain and development of zero emission vehicles, provides an unequivocal vote of confidence in the industry that has the talent, the innovation and the determination necessary to thrive in the face of fierce global competition. Coming on the back of almost £20 billion committed by the sector in next generation plants and technologies this year alone, it is indicative of the scale of investment such support can leverage and the result of substantial collaboration between government and the industry.

Despite substantial investments by vehicle manufacturers in zero-emission technologies, the onus is now on fleet operators to initiate procurement. With the first end-of-sale deadline for trucks below 26 tonnes just 11 years away, proactive measures are imperative. While there are various zero emission fleet planning tools available, awareness about them seems limited among industry professionals. There is a pressing need for widespread promotion of these tools to empower operators to assess and strategise the transition to zero emission vehicles for their respective routes.

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