How to decarbonise heavy road transport?
Ambitious long-term greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets require decarbonisation of the transport sector. Where plentiful supplies of low carbon electricity are available for road transport, passenger cars with internal combustion engines need to be replaced by electric vehicles. However, despite its growing share of transport's CO2 emissions, no clear solution presents itself for CO2 emission reduction on heavy road transport. Potential low carbon options include direct electrification of trucks via batteries, over-head power lines, hydrogen and other power-to-X fuels from renewable electricity. Here, we compare these options with respect to their degree of technological readiness, economy, infrastructure costs and CO2 reduction potential. We use cost assumptions and cost reduction potential from available literature sources and combine them with actual heavy truck usage data for an analysis for Germany in 2030. Our results show that the high efficiency in direct usage of electricity from catenaries implies less installation of additional renewable power compared to fuel cell electric vehicles. Both could be good long-term solutions but require a massive initial infrastructure investment.