Why it’s time to start accelerating the decarbonisation of your fleet
Author: Jamie Colquhoun, Transport energy advisor
2030 is the milestone that many public and private sector organisations have circled in their diaries as the year when their vehicle fleet operations will be zero tailpipe emitting – Costain among them. Our Car Fleet Transition Plan outlines the steps we are taking to ensure we achieve a fully emission free fleet both for our company cars and car allowance fleets by 2030.
And you may think – “that’s fine, there’s plenty of time to do this”. But as many early adopting organisations have already found out, especially in the logistics industry, the challenges of transitioning your fleet to a fully zero carbon fuel alternative can be quite daunting, especially at scale and/or with a mixed portfolio that includes heavy duty vehicles.
So, what kind of challenges are we talking about? Let’s start with the vehicles themselves. What’s the best alternative fuel option for your operational needs and actually is that technology available yet and/or at a price that’s economically viable? Whilst battery electric options for cars and light commercial vehicles continue to grow, the innovation jury is still out with automotive manufacturers on what’s the primary technology that will power our heavy duty vehicles of the future. And whether it’s battery electric (EV), hydrogen fuel cell or a mix of both, having the right infrastructure in the right locations to power the c. 500,000 HGVs and coaches on UK roads will be critical. As an example, Costain is leading a consortium in the UK’s first trial of catenary overhead power lines on a stretch of motorway in the North of England that will power battery electric HGVs on the move. For some, hydrogen may be a better option, and we are also supporting local authorities in changing their large vehicle fleets to fuel cell options powered by hydrogen.
The challenge to ensure an optimised charging infrastructure is ready to support the transition to EV extends to private sector fleets as well – what are the right charging technology options for future fleet needs and how best to develop these so systems are futureproofed, resilient and flexible enough to grow and adapt as new tech options become available.
Smart charging will be a critical technology of the future, enabled by more sophisticated energy systems that will help flex charging around potential grid capacity constraints at peak times, but still leaving us with the required power for our vehicles as and when we need it.
With ever-evolving vehicles, infrastructure and also operations needed to enable a sustainable clean mobility future, you can see why many are taking the time now to develop their plans and a roadmap to get them successfully to their zero carbon transport destination – whether that be before, on or after 2030.
In line with our Climate Change Action Plan, we are busy supporting organisations in developing strategic options for their own fleets and have been delivering infrastructure for decades. Whether you’re at the start of your journey and need to consider total cost of ownership for different vehicle types or whether you require support in developing the right charging infrastructure across your estate, our clean mobility experts can help.
In my next article I’ll look in more detail at the role hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could play in the future of low carbon transport, and some of the things companies and fleet managers need to consider when planning their approach to the transition.