New industry report urges greater diversity in UK approach to carbon neutral technology

  • First report by the Transport Energy Network (TEN) suggests there is no “single bullet” solution for decarbonising transport and warns against ‘over-reliance’ of any one technology, urging policy-makers and industry to develop a portfolio of power options to meet 2050 targets.
  • Key recommendations include more coordinated action to R&D across sectors in order to diversify low carbon vehicle technologies, scaling up production of greener fuels, and a move away from “tailpipe-based” approaches to measuring carbon emissions in favour of a life cycle approach.

The UK government should encourage different transport sectors to work together to create a wider “portfolio of power options” in order to meet its zero carbon ambitions, a new report by the Transport Energy Network argues.

Warning that there is no “single bullet” technology for decarbonising the transport sector, the Understanding Decarbonised Transport in 2050 report suggests an over-reliance on any single technology could jeopardise the UK’s ambition to achieve net-zero emissions.

To close the gap, the report urges greater collaboration across industry sectors and further government action to support different approaches to help harder to decarbonise sectors reduce their carbon footprint.

Among ten key recommendations made to UK government and industry, the report calls for action to ramp up the production of greener fuels such as sustainable diesel, biomethane and hydrogen fuels, which it predicts will be an important means of decarbonising long haul maritime transport, haulage and construction through the 2030s.

It also calls on the UK government to consider changing emissions legislation to ensure all industries assess their carbon footprint from transport more consistently by examining the pollution generated across the whole life-cycle of a vehicle rather than relying on current ‘tailpipe based’ measures.

Other recommendations include urging government policy-makers to be “technology agnostic” when it comes to supporting the different solutions necessary to achieve net zero, and greater collaboration across industry to develop a “shared vision” of how to decarbonise transport in the most cost-effective way.

The report will be officially launched at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event later this month (November 18-19 2020), and is the first in a series of expert studies by the Transport Energy Network, which was established by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership and University of Brighton earlier this year.

It is supported by a series of “roadmaps” exploring different transport modes, energy solutions and propulsion methods for maritime, aviation and heavy-duty vehicles, as well as “on-road” transport.

These chart the contribution that different technologies could make to achieving carbon reductions across these sectors over the next 30 years, identifying the timescales within which the widespread adoption of different technologies would need to happen in order to meet the 2050 target.

Philippa Oldham, Stakeholder Engagement Director at the Advanced Propulsion Centre, said:

This report shows the power of thinking holistically about green transport and makes a powerful case for why we must not put all our eggs in one basket when supporting decarbonisation technologies. We particularly need to recognise the complexity and variation in approach necessary across sectors, while acknowledging the gains that can be made when different sectors work together on a shared approach. The whole purpose of the new Transport Energy Network was to start a conversation between sectors and encourage greater collaboration. We hope it will now play an important role in bringing people together so we can secure the right portfolio of power options to meet our 2050 targets.