Concerns over the “colossal” amounts of energy required to top up zero-emission fleets of trucks that could overpower the network and melt power cables have been brought to the attention of the transport minister.
Conservative peer Lord Howell questioned where the enormous extra volume of electricity was going to come from in order to help transition the haulage industry to non-diesel fuels and where the investment was coming from to generate it.
He asked: “Would not a fleet of HGVs all topping up with electricity add a colossal load to our electricity supply and transmission system, even to the point, some say, that the existing cables could melt, causing local outages?”
In response, transport minister Baroness Vere acknowledged that this was “a very important point”.
She said: “That is why, as part of the decarbonisation of HGVs, the government are investing £200 million in the zero-emission road freight demonstrator programme, which will look at all the different technologies available.
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“For some vehicles, battery electric will be the best option, but for others we expect hydrogen fuel cells to be far more relevant. Therefore, we need the zero-emission HGV infrastructure strategy, which will examine what a network of green hydrogen sites would look like, as well as the impact on the grid and where on it the additional electricity will be needed.”
During the House of Lords debate, Liberal Democrat Baroness Randerson pointed out that the National Grid was giving applicants requiring extra grid capacity completion dates that were “well into the 2030s”, despite many being needed in the near future.
The transport minister said it would discuss with industry stakeholders how they wanted the zero-emission vehicle rollout to progress, “particularly at the heavy end”.
She added: “The government are confident that the grid can cope with the increased demand, and the next step is to ensure that depots can connect to it.”
Last week, automotive group the SMMT said a plan was urgently needed to deliver widespread charging infrastructure, in order to boost haulage operators’ confidence in the technology and increase the electric and hydrogen powered truck market share from the current 0.3%.