The transport sector must become greener, but the transition to zero emission trucks is difficult. In particular, the lack of loading docks for trucks makes the transition to green freight traffic difficult.
Trucks, along with buses, account for six percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Therefore, both the government and the European Commission have ambitious targets to rapidly reduce emissions from the transport sector.
Emission free zones
In February, European Commissioner Frans Timmermans proposed to cut emissions from new trucks by 45% by 2030. By 2040, this should even be 90%.
In the Netherlands, at least twenty-five cities will introduce emission-free zones from 2025. This means that trucks must supply cities completely emission-free.
So the ambitions are great, but the transition is not really making any progress for transport companies. Of the 146,000 trucks on the road in the Netherlands, only 408 were electric in February this year. 27 trucks ran on hydrogen.
During the work on the A1 motorway, all machines and trucks are already powered electrically:
While many trucking companies would like to make the switch to emission-free trucks. Last year, the 25 million euro subsidy available for the purchase of electric trucks vanished in one day. This year, another 30 million euros are available.
“The biggest bottleneck is currently grid congestion,” says Elisabeth Post, chairwoman of the board of the trade association for Transport and Logistics Netherlands (TLN). Because electric truck charging requires a lot of energy, electric trucks are often required special connections at industrial sites.But because the power grid is full in much of the Netherlands, companies cannot have these connections installed or have to wait years.
The research agency CE Delft published advice last year for companies that want to switch to electric trucks despite the full power grid. For example, they can use batteries, share charging points with other companies or charge at times when the electricity grid allows it best.
At the rate things are going now, it’s just not moving forward.
But according to Post, it’s still hard. “That may be the solution for part of the problem, but the charging traffic continues day and night. So you don’t always have the option, for example, to only charge at night.”
Charging at public charging points is also a problem for trucks. There are only a few charging places available for trucks in the Netherlands. Fastned, the provider of 150 charging stations along the Dutch motorway, says none of its charging stations are suitable for heavy trucks. However, they are investigating whether new stations can be given this option. Shell also says it is working on public fast chargers for trucks.
The TNO research institute believes that other ways of making freight traffic more sustainable should also be considered. “You also have to look at applications like hydrogen and synthetic fuels,” says researcher Rob Cuelenaere. “In the end, you will most likely end up with a mix, of which electric driving will be a big part.”
Long transition period
The TLN trade association hopes that a solution to the network congestion will be found as soon as possible. “At the rate things are going now, it’s just not moving forward,” says Post.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management says it shares TLN’s concerns. “Logistics charging infrastructure should not be an obstacle to making freight transport more sustainable. In the coming years, governments, network administrators and charging station operators will continue to work together in a national network of points (fast) public cargo services for trucks”.
The ministry does not foresee any problems with the introduction of emission-free zones in cities from 2025. “There is a generous transition period for vehicles, which runs until 2030.”