Addressing the diverse challenges confronting operators in the transition to zero-emission road freight requires a nuanced approach. The Green Finance Institute (GFI) has issued a report highlighting measures that have the potential to expedite the shift to zero-emission road freight, aligning with the UK’s Net Zero ambitions.

The imperative to decarbonise the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) sector in the UK, responsible for a disproportionate 19% of transport emissions despite constituting only 1% of vehicles, underscores the urgency of transformative measures. 

Aligned with its Net Zero commitment, the UK Government has pledged support for the shift to zero-emission truck (ZET) technologies, implementing policies, and regulations, and offering grants and tax incentives. 

With manufacturers gearing up for a shift away from diesel vehicles, ZETs, powered by battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell technologies, are becoming central to their strategies.

However, despite the ambitious targets and technological advancements, the adoption of ZETs remains minimal, with only 0.1% of the UK’s HGV parc consisting of zero-emission vehicles. 

Small and medium-sized operators, representing half of the sector’s turnover and ownership, face barriers such as high capital costs, insufficient infrastructure, vehicle suitability concerns, technology uncertainties, and operational impacts. 

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HGV transition

To transition the remaining HGV fleet an estimated £100 billion in additional investment is deemed necessary, according to analysis by the Green Finance Institute and KPMG.

Addressing these barriers requires a multifaceted approach. Financial solutions and policy levers, tailored to support smaller operators, must be implemented. A stable policy environment, including a zero-emission vehicle mandate, a comprehensive ZET infrastructure strategy, and measures facilitating smaller operators’ access to ZETs is essential. 

Collaboration among global experts, academia, government entities, and the private sector is vital to bring these solutions to fruition and pave the way for a sustainable, decarbonized future in the UK’s HGV sector.

For the full 45-page report see Delivering Net Zero: Unlocking Public and Private Capital for Zero Emission Trucks