In October 2018, the CCC was requested to advice on setting a date for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the economy in the context of the Paris Agreement, including from transport, industry and agriculture. This request follow a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), showing more rapid action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid devastating risks of climate change to health and global prosperity. The work in this proposal is expected to be supporting evidence for the CCC’s advice, due to be published in spring 2019.
Achieving deep emissions reductions in the transport sector will require the use of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). ULEVs are vehicles with zero or near-zero tailpipe emissions which make use of electricity or hydrogen from an increasingly decarbonised power sector.
Whilst battery electric vehicles are the most promising technology option for the light duty vehicle sector, the most cost-effective technology to decarbonise the heavy duty vehicle sector is not yet clear. Given the need to reduce transport emissions to zero wherever possible, the CCC have identified the following likely technology options:
• Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles combined with hydrogen refuelling stations
• Battery electric vehicles with extremely fast chargers at strategic stopping points
• Battery electric vehicles supported by on-road charging infrastructure such as overhead catenaries, dynamic wireless inductive charging or conductive charging.
• A hybrid solution combining elements of each of the above.
It should be noted that the CCC recently conducted a review of the uses of biomass in a low-carbon economy, which found that there was no long-term role for the use of biofuels in road transport, and therefore the use of biofuels is explicitly excluded here.
The aim of this research is to assess the infrastructure costs of these options to 2050 and beyond. Given the lack of comprehensive data on the movements of HGVs of different sizes, this appraisal should take a scenario based approach, using simple evidence-based assumptions. The costs of the technology options themselves are not part of this research, and the CCC is happy to share their latest assumptions on vehicle and fuel costs.
The CCC defines a HGV to be any vehicle with a maximum operating weight > 3.5 tonnes. Three types of HGV must be considered: small rigid vehicles (gross vehicle weight (gvw) < 16 tonnes), large rigid vehicles (gvw>16 tonnes) and articulated vehicles (consisting of a separate tractor and trailer of any weight).
The CCC has recently published a review on the uses of hydrogen across the economy. In this review we identified the following key issues associated with the low carbon HGV options: