Industry Issues, VTA

The Economics of Trucking’s Carbon Zero

The Economics of Trucking’s Carbon Zero

Looking at the realities which will face transport operations as they migrate across from fossil fuel dependency to the zero carbon economy, one of experts on the economics of trucking’s carbon zero examined some possible scenarios.

Australian trucking operators are currently in various stages of decarbonising their businesses. Some are a taking the first few steps on the road to zero carbon, while others are looking at the options for the future, then some will wait on the sidelines and see how the radical changes in the industry play out.

The Alternative Fuel Summit, organised by the Victorian Transport Association, was aimed at informing operators and suppliers participating in the industry, helping them to make informed decisions on the next step for their business. The process of decarbonisation needs to clearly defined, in order to give the business owner confidence to be able to make the first steps on the road financially sustainable.

Professor Russell Thompson is Professor of Transport Engineering and Department of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne. His main research areas are city logistics, physical internet, resilient transport systems and Intelligent Transport Systems.

“I’m trying to outline some areas where I think there’s some opportunities for some of the work, that I’ve been involved in, to assist the trucking industry,” said Russell. “How we make decisions is very important and there’s a lot of decisions made by an industry, associated with trying to decarbonise. It’s good to reflect on who are the decision makers because they’re very complex systems, we’re talking about here.

“There’s a lot of different types of decision makers. We’ve got businesses, families, government, but I want to talk about how we can use computers. Being able to exchange our knowledge and learn from each other is important.

“There’s a lot of interest in alternative fuels, technologies and engineering, but I’m going to talk about networks and how networks can play a very important role, in this transition to net zero emissions. We’ve got a very dynamic mix of technologies and a very fast changing environment, a lot of uncertainty in terms of the future, a lot of automation opportunities, but also a lot of computer technology and a shared economy.”

Russell done a lot of work in mathematical modelling about reducing total emissions. He has been working on a set of equations around emissions produced per vehicle kilometre. The distance the vehicles are traveling is a major influence on the total emissions.

His team has been studying networks and how they can be transformed as part of the transition to net zero emissions. They have looked at the concept that it’s how far these vehicles are traveling and the nature of the networks that they’re operating on, which is important.

Where the terminals are, where the warehouses are, where the customers are and where the demand is. He has also worked on utilisation of the vehicles, and thinks this is very important and can have a major role to play.


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