The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has claimed hydrogen is the best alternative fuel option for HGV operators looking to cut carbon emissions and will play a major role in the future of heavy haulage.

Speaking to motortransport.co.uk at the Westminster launch of a report by the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce into the ‘electric vehicle transition’, ENA head of innovation Randolph Brazier (pictured) said: “One thing that didn’t come across today is that it’s not all about electrification. We represent the gas and electricity networks and we’re fuel agnostic. We’re looking at all the different options.

"A lot of people think heavy transport will be electrified and it could be, and Mercedes for example are looking at this sort of thing. But hydrogen is also going to play a big role with really heavy stuff like long-distance transport.

“So we’re focusing on both the hydrogen type vehicles and electrical vehicles. We’re looking at both options at ENA and looking at how we can design the networks to enable those.”

Brazier added that “from an energy density perspective”, technology will need to significantly progress before firms operating the heaviest fleets should consider electric.

“For that really heavy stuff, hydrogen, at least at this stage, is looking like a sensible option - a better option,” he said. “That’s why we’re working with people like the World Energy Council, for example, to understand what’s happening in other areas of the world and what they’re doing in this space.

“I do realise today’s launch was focused on electric vehicles but that is absolutely not the only solution. Ultimately it will be market led, but the feeling is that cars and small-scale vehicles will be electric but for the heavy stuff, hydrogen makes more sense on a long-term basis.”

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Brazier went on to explain that hydrogen had added advantages: “It’s not just a solution for transport,” he said. “It’s also a way to decarbonise heat, it’s a way to create long-term energy storage; it has multiple uses so we think hydrogen is going to play a big role in the future – similar to what the National Grid have said here today."

Asked if he considered biomethane a viable alternative fuel, Brazier agreed it also had “a role to play”.

“That is a different technology but in the UK there are over 100 biomethane sites connected to our gas networks. Will there be enough biomethane to do all our transport and heating? It’s probably unlikely but it will certainly play a role and we think it will probably be broken down by region. So biomethane will make sense in some regions where there is a fuel source there. Hydrogen will make sense in other regions. It will be about highly locational solutions, but we’re exploring biomethane as well.

"There will be a mix of solutions. There will be some electrification, some hydrogen and potentially some biomethane. It will be part market led, part government led and will also depend on the natural resources of local areas. If there's an area that’s strong in biomethane, of course we should be using it."

Brazier claimed the government wasn’t doing enough to meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“It’s unlikely that current policy will deliver net zero,” he said. “Heavy transportation is an area the government needs to focus on. I know they are but ultimately it depends who you talk to. If you talk to anyone in heavy transport a lot of them also want to decarbonise.

“For us, net zero means every sector. That includes heavy transport and we’re working with all of the relevant areas of government to learn how we’re going to do it, but also learning from what’s happening globally."