As we plan for a carbon-neutral future, we face a major challenge that is transportation. According to an estimate, one-third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. The adoption of electric cars, trucks, and hydrogen fuel cells is an encouraging solution for the carbon trucking industry. However, only electrification can’t get us to full decarbonization, we need to look into making our fuels greener as well.
Recently, California made history by becoming the first state to mandate truck makers to move towards zero-emission drivetrains. According to the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) new carbon trucking regulations, half of the state’s trucks are required to be zero-emission by 3035, and the other half by 2045.
They are also working on a zero-emission rule for fleet owners as well. Generally in the U.S., wherever California goes, the whole nation follows. Therefore, other states will follow in California’s footsteps and transition towards zero-emission trucking shortly.
What Are The Benefits Of Carbon Trucking?
Some of the benefits of carbon free trucking include:
- Saving money for consumers as well as truckers
- Supporting economic development in the country
- Increasing public health and safety
- Reducing air pollution
- Minimizing noise pollution
- Achieving sustainable development goals
What Fuel Source Alternatives Can Be Used?
Electrification of short-haul and regional routes can be prioritized as these places are the ones where battery electric vehicles (BEV) technologies are currently running. Long haul trucking requires a more complex solution or maybe a different and better-suited technology for zero-emission. This can include hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (HF CEV) designs. These fuel cells are better suited to power carbon free trucks on longer ranges. Hydrogen fuel cells are a better fit, as they’re better equipped to match the fast fueling times required by long-haul trucks.
If you want to run trucks, you need to fuel them, and transitioning to carbon free trucks means a whole infrastructure investment in charging stations and hydrogen stations. And don’t forget the upfront cost of switching to BEV and HFCEV trucks. One of the crucial challenges we face today is a lack of charging infrastructure. To run the fleet with zero emissions, owners require to invest in a lot of charging stations and hydrogen fueling pumps. This is a big infrastructure project and can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years. The sooner we get started on them, the better for the environment. Also, DC charging infrastructure of up to 1MW will be required for larger trucks. And such charging infrastructure is not at all cheap. It can cost up to $100,000 per vehicle, and more funds will be needed to supply the necessary power for a fleet at each site.
Cooperation is Key:
Collaboration between the industry, utilities and the government is necessary when it comes to building charging infrastructure and truck fleets and the success of this new mandate. This will serve as an example which other states will then follow. Collaboration is also necessary with many allied efforts that are underway.
The government can subsidize the use of clean technologies as an incentive to shift the trucking industry towards carbon trucking. Also, support from the government is also required for research and development.
Reducing Greenhouse gas emissions in the trucking industry is a significant challenge, but there are a few steps governments can take to incentivize investors and carrier companies. The government can change the relative costs of clean technologies by introducing subsidies and lower taxes until they become competitive. Research and development of clean technologies can also be subsidized to promote investment in cleaner energies needed for carbon trucking.
Policies like the one California has introduced are also a great way to set goals and achieve them. The trucking industry has gotten a great opportunity to aggressively tackle the emissions problem and transition towards carbon free trucking and zero emissions. This transition has a great potential to attract new talent, gather support from the communities it benefits and reduce climate risks.