The challenges which will be faced in decarbonising heavy duty vehicles are becoming increasingly apparent. Although there is scope for continuing efficiency improvements in diesel trucks or the use of alternative fuels such as biofuels and natural gas, a truly zero emissions solution (coupled with low carbon upstream energy production) will be required to meet ambitious long term CO2 goals.
For urban trucks in particular, there is an increasing need for zero emission solutions to comply with upcoming access restrictions imposed by cities as part of air pollution reduction strategies. Hydrogen fuel cell trucks are a promising solution for meeting these dual challenges of climate change and air pollution, though to date development and deployment activities have been slow and the state of readiness remains behind that of light vehicles (in the first generation of serial production vehicles by major OEMs) and buses (currently moving to large scale joint procurement following successful demonstration in numerous European and world cities).
Refuse trucks are a particularly attractive first application for the commercialisation of heavy duty fuel cell based trucks for a number of reasons. Most refuse trucks operate from a single depot, allowing them to be incorporated into captive fleets. This improves the utilisation of local hydrogen refuelling infrastructure, and thus the infrastructure’s economics. Moreover, refuse trucks operate in urban areas where air quality is a particularly important issue. Due to the heavy-duty cycles required the hydrogen fuelled option is one of very few zero emission options that can provide the equivalent flexibility of diesel fuelled vehicles, as battery vehicles struggle to meet the range requirements. In addition, today’s standard refuse trucks use a conventional truck chassis. As a result, development and validation of refuse truck applications can act as a springboard, developing technology ready for application to all truck types. The REVIVE project aims to achieve this.
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