Transport is likely the hardest economic sector to decarbonise. And road vehicles produce the most greenhouse gas emissions of the Australian transport sector – 85% of its total. Freight trucks account for only 8% of travel on our roads but 27% of transport emissions.
We analysed the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of Australian passenger cars and SUVs in a 2022 study. We have now looked at Australian trucks.
The 2022 study showed Australian electric cars already provided large cuts in emissions in 2019. The reduction was 30-40% compared to the overall on-road passenger vehicle fleet’s (life-cycle) emissions per kilometre in 2018. When renewables take over the electricity grid from which battery electric vehicles are charged, the cuts will be even bigger – around 75-80%.
Is it the same for Australian trucks? Our new study shows battery electric trucks are the best road transport option for getting closer to net-zero emissions. As the shift to renewables continues and batteries become more durable, these trucks are expected to deliver the largest and most certain emission cuts of 75-85% over their entire life cycle.Hydrogen-powered (fuel cell) trucks also provide large emission cuts, but not as much as battery electric trucks. Their future performance is the most uncertain at this stage.
What did the study look at?
We looked at the fleet-averaged life-cycle emissions of three Australian truck sizes and three technologies – diesel, hydrogen and electric – for the pre-COVID year 2019 and a future decarbonised scenario. This scenario is based on 90% renewables in the electricity grid and 90% green hydrogen (produced using renewable energy).
To explore the large and significant shifts that have occurred and operational results from larger transport fleets, including log transport operations over the past 12 months, this region’s major Wood Transport & Logistics 2024 event has been set up for the forestry, log haulage and contracting companies in Rotorua, New Zealand on 22-23 May 2024. Last year was a sell-out. Programme details can be found on the event website.