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23 Aug 2021, 13:32
Charlotte Nijhuis

Freight traffic lacks climate-friendly alternatives – German industry

Clean Energy Wire / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Germany lacks the infrastructure to create climate-friendly alternatives for freight transport, the federation of German industries (BDI) concludes in a new strategy paper, which lists 33 action points to make the sector more sustainable and competitive. Germany’s slow process of modernisation means that its rail network and goods train fleet are outdated, the BDI states. “A climate-friendly and efficient transport sector is a mammoth task for the next federal government," Holger Lösch, the BDI's deputy managing director, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. However, if the government makes the necessary investments in charging infrastructure, trucks could soon be battery-powered on a large scale and “be as flexible as conventional ones in long-distance transport.” The BDI sees issues regarding the availability of synthetic fuels and green hydrogen to power road transport. "The additional demand for CO₂-neutral energy carriers, especially green hydrogen, threatens to exceed supply in the foreseeable future," said Lösch. In terms of rail freight, Germany needs to “race to catch up,” the BDI writes. Freight railways must increase their reliability "through massive public investment", become more flexible and, above all, more digital and automated, the federation argues.

Greenhouse gas emissions from Germany’s transport sector have remained stubbornly high for years and the industry has often been called the “problem child” of the country’s energy transition plans. In light of the decarbonisation of heavy-duty freight transport, researchers have been investigating clean alternatives, including catenary trucks and battery electric trucks.

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