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Energy and Environmental Costs in Transitioning to Zero and Low Emission Trucks for the Australian Truck Fleet: An Industry Perspective


Modernising Australia’s old truck fleet and adopting a more stringent standard to reduce emissions and air pollutants is a primary objective for the Australian truck sector. Various strategies worldwide have been introduced to cut emissions and pollutants in the truck sector, such as a low-emission strategy supported by strict diesel standards and a zero-emission strategy to shift to battery-electric or hydrogen trucks. The paper focuses on emissions and local air pollutants of trucks under various transition scenarios at both the tailpipe and the wider supply chain including domestic power generation and hydrogen production. In contrast, for diesel, we focus on tailpipe outputs following fuel standards in Australia, given diesel is imported other than in some limited refineries. We compare and recommend actions that government and truck operators may take in the near to longer term in transitioning to cleaner energy. We tested a number of scenarios using a decision support system incorporating all the latest information on costs and emissions for all truck classes using diesel, electric or hydrogen. A key finding from our scenario tests is that the current electricity mix has high carbon emissions and air pollutants due to fossil fuel-fired sources for power generation. Without improvement in using renewable energy sources in the future, transitioning to electric trucks implies more carbon emissions and air pollutants in the atmosphere from power plants, even though electric trucks generate zero tailpipe emissions. The main motivation for switching to zero-emission trucks is energy cost savings. We urge the government to decide on a clear roadmap for the truck sector before the sector is in a position to take action to shift to low or zero-emission trucks without totally relying on the likely reduction of emission intensity in electricity and renewable energy production.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Australia

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