16 May 2024, 13:28
Julian Wettengel

Germany should focus on battery-electric trucks to push decarbonisation of freight transport – govt advisors

Clean Energy Wire

To decarbonise freight transport more quickly, government action should prioritise the expansion of the charging infrastructure for electric trucks, said the German Council of Economic Experts, a key advisory group for the government. The economists argued that battery and charging technology is much more mature than other low-emission technologies for freight transport, which is why it should be made the focus of investments. "Given limited public funds and planning capacities, establishing a nationwide charging infrastructure should be prioritised to accelerate market penetration of battery-electric trucks," council chair Monika Schnitzer said. Due to Germany's central geographical location in Europe, inexpensive and reliable freight transport is key, but the infrastructure is currently "in poor condition." Without major investment, it will further deteriorate, while freight transport continues to increase and put a strain on the infrastructure," Schnitzer said.

Trucks and other freight vehicles are the backbone of Germany’s export-driven economy. But the rapid growth in traffic volumes in recent years has increased pressure on the transport sector to reduce emissions as it already lags behind on its climate targets. Over 95 percent of CO2 emissions in Germany’s transport sector are caused by road traffic, and about one third of this is caused by long and short-distance road haulage operations. Experts say that battery-electric trucks are set to take over heavy duty road freight because they are much cheaper to run than other low-emission technologies, such as vehicles running hydrogen- or biofuel-based combustion engines. The economic advisors said that only six percent of road freight traffic is suitable for a shift to rail.

The council presented the proposals alongside this year's spring outlook on the German economy. It said a strong recovery was not yet in sight, despite a projected slight pickup in growth throughout 2024. German exports would benefit from rising global trade over the next two years, but export-oriented companies face strong competition, rising labour costs and elevated energy prices, council member Veronika Grimm said.

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