Look­ing to a green freight fu­ture

New Zealand Truck & Driver - - Front Page -

A GOV­ERN­MENT-FUNDED STUDY THAT EX­PLORED tran­si­tion­ing New Zealand’s road freight to al­ter­na­tive green fu­els, ac­knowl­edges that there’s a lot more work to do be­fore green freight is vi­able, ac­cord­ing to Road Trans­port Fo­rum chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Leggett.

He wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity for the Fo­rum to have some in­volve­ment with the Min­istry of Trans­port’s 2020 Green Freight Work­ing Paper as it gath­ered in­for­ma­tion.

“It is al­ways good to plan for the fu­ture and we can’t put our head in the sand and pre­tend we can run on diesel for­ever,” Leggett rea­sons.

“It’s not just the Gov­ern­ment call­ing for greener so­lu­tions across all as­pects of our lives: Many road freight trans­port op­er­a­tors will be find­ing cus­tomers want­ing to deep dive into how they are run­ning and mea­sur­ing sus­tain­able busi­ness prac­tices.

“Al­ter­na­tive green fu­els are a grow­ing area of in­ter­est and in­vest­ment glob­ally, but the pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle mar­ket has de­vel­oped more than truck man­u­fac­tur­ing.

“So, choices that can be made in NZ will be con­strained by what is avail­able. There also has to be the ap­pro­pri­ate in­fras­truc­ture to sup­port any al­ter­na­tive fuel op­tions. Freight com­pa­nies are un­likely to in­vest in ve­hi­cles that can­not be eas­ily recharged/re­fu­elled through­out the coun­try.

“We are all aware of the cur­rent lim­i­ta­tions, but we also need to look at the op­por­tu­ni­ties. An­other thing COVID-19 has taught us is you sim­ply don’t know what’s ahead and global shocks have a way of chang­ing things.”

He be­lieves that NZ’s COVID-19 lock­down brought “a greater un­der­stand­ing by Gov­ern­ment of both the ne­ces­sity and the many in­ter­con­nected parts of mov­ing freight.”

Adds Leggett: “Road freight trans­port presents a co­nun­drum for this Gov­ern­ment. They don’t like fos­sil-fu­elled trucks on roads, but they need them.

“We have an econ­omy based on ex­ports and im­ports and 93% of the to­tal tonnes of freight moved in NZ goes by road. This has pos­si­bly never been more im­por­tant to the econ­omy than it is now.

“To the unini­ti­ated, trucks don’t fit with the cli­mate change nar­ra­tive. But the Gov­ern­ment can’t tax and reg­u­late trucks off the road un­til there is some vi­able al­ter­na­tive to fu­elling them – and the in­fras­truc­ture to sup­port that.

The MoT work­ing paper “takes a first look at the fu­els, ve­hi­cles and in­fras­truc­ture chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

It looks at “the three ex­ist­ing op­tions as al­ter­na­tive fu­els – elec­tric­ity, green hy­dro­gen and bio­fu­els – but ac­knowl­edges a lot more work needs to be done for any of these to be vi­able at scale. It also notes that there is no one-size-fits-all so­lu­tion and other op­tions could emerge.

“We’re pleased to see it notes there are sus­tain­abil­ity con­cerns with bat­ter­ies for elec­tric ve­hi­cles – in par­tic­u­lar their pro­duc­tion and dis­posal. We feel (that) in the rush to en­dorse elec­tric ve­hi­cles, this has been some­what over­looked.

“Tran­si­tion­ing road freight in NZ to al­ter­na­tive green fu­els has to hap­pen, but it isn’t go­ing to be overnight. That means there is time to thor­oughly an­a­lyse the op­tions.

“The work­ing paper says: ‘The Gov­ern­ment should con­sider op­tions that pro­vide the freight in­dus­try with flex­i­bil­ity to tran­si­tion to the al­ter­na­tive green fu­els that are best suited to their or­gan­i­sa­tions.’ We think that is sound ad­vice.

“If the Gov­ern­ment re­ally wants to go big on green freight, the op­por­tu­nity is there to back our­selves as a smart, clean, green coun­try and come up with the so­lu­tions our­selves.”

T&D

NZ’s first heavy-duty all-elec­tric high­way truck was launched last De­cem­ber by linen, uni­form, first-aid and hy­giene sup­plies spe­cial­ist Alsco. But its range is a prob­lem­atic 200 kilo­me­tres

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