£20m zero-emission road freight funding aids move to electric trucks

After news of a concerning lack of battery tech strategies, the UK Government has announced a substantial funding package to boost the UK’s transition to zero-emission road freight. Zero-emission trials, costing GBP20 million, funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by Innovate UK, will help to develop solutions to support the uptake of zero-emission trucks. Following previous battery-electric vehicle field testing in a real-world environment and feasibility studies, the new funding will help to design and develop cost-effective, zero-emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and their refuelling infrastructure.

The move comes soon after the announcement of GBP50m in funding by the Scottish Government to go towards a net zero bus system as part of its new Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund (ScotZEB).

Replacing previous funding streams set out for zero-emission vehicles, the fund aims to ‘encourage’ the market to agree and implement new and innovative ways to finance zero-emission busses. The latest funding round 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. Commenting on the funding, 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.” 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 four 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 roll-out of zero-emission technologies to decarbonise heavy transport vehicles.

Iain Stewart, UK government minister for Scotland, commented: “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 GBP20 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 show how the UK is innovating to help save the planet.”


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Scotland is already making headway towards a net zero future.

Small firms and scale-ups across the country have begun the task through the Tech Nation Net Zero programme, which last year accepted four Scottish scale-ups. The UK Government has come under fire recently for its lack of battery and fuel cell technology strategy present in Britain to boost the uptake of electric vehicles. A report from the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee concluded that the country is at risk of losing its automotive industry without a substantial battery tech strategy.

The report stated that the UK could start “falling further behind global competitors” in battery manufacture, with competitor nations already investing more heavily in lithium-ion batteries than the UK.

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