Transport emissions & competitiveness

How much of your CO2/GHG emissions are from transporting your goods to the EU?

After chairing ISO50001UK last year and speaking at other energy related events in the UK, it is apparent that Brexit will happen and may happen quite quickly.   After Sterling’s 15% devaluation, to compete with and in a lower cost UK, we need to reduce costs across our economy to increase our competitiveness.

As 95% of Ireland’s exports by volume go by road, this will lead to unprecedented pressure on transport operators’ costs; yet fuel makes up 20-40% of these costs and 97% of our transport fuels are imported.

SEAI have just published the energy emissions figures for 2015: Between 2005 and 2015, energy-related CO2 emissions in transport decreased by 7.9% to 14 Million tonnes of CO2e (Mt).

Emissions peaked in 2007 at 17.1 Mt and fell to 12.3 Mt in 2012, before rising again by 14% up to 2015, the EU plan on transport emissions increasing by 35% to 2050, we are almost 1/3 of the way to 2050 today.

EPA Transport Projections for Ireland – WM = with existing measures and WAM = With additional measures

With CO2 emissions avoided using liquid biofuels at just 264 kt in 2015, we urgently need a simple strategy to reduce our transport emissions: “Avoid, shift & improve”, emerged from a study we worked on in Paris with the International Energy Agency (IEA) in May.

  • Avoid: Can we reduce our exports by volume? Frankly no.  Food, pharmaceuticals and SME exporters would be badly impacted by restrictions on movement regardless of volume.
  • Shift: Building a rail tunnel to France, or moving our goods shipments to high speed ferries bypassing the UK are not realistic options either. We can shift our car journeys to work from home, video conference and public transport, saving ourselves stress, time and money; freeing up emissions for exports.
  • Improve: To meet our emissions targets, secure our energy supply and reduce costs, Ireland needs to accelerate the shift to electric cars. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and LPG fuels will reduce commercial transport costs and help to clean up our heavy vehicle emissions, but will not help towards our 2020 to 2050 emissions targets due to the natural losses from burning gas in an internal combustion engine.

How do we grow exports and reduce emissions?

As sceptical as I am of Hydrogen power as an alternative fuel (it is just an energy carrier), an interesting solution to the heavy vehicle and exports challenge is becoming available in the USA.  Like Tesla, Nikola Motor’s (named after Nikola Tesla) business model includes the cost of its fuel in the price of the vehicle.

Nikola One – a renewable hydrogen fuelled electric truck.

Also like Tesla’s Model 3, you can reserve your Nikola Class 8 tractor unit now; but beware our vehicle length regulations, and you will need to find a renewable source of hydrogen to fuel it with.

Nonetheless I wish Nikola Motor the best of luck with their new disruptive business model and look forward to seeing this type of long range heavy goods vehicle on Europe’s roads in due course.