Long distance trucking is a grossly inefficient way to move goods from one place to another. But the state of Hesse in Germany is about to embark on a trial which could help improve that inefficiency considerably. As business Green reports, 10 km of highway in Hesse will soon be equipped with overhead charging cables to be used by hybrid trucks to run on electricity when juice is available, and to switch back to diesel when it's not. It's all part of Siemens' eHighway initiative which the company claims would double energy efficiency compared running on gas, and slash emissions even more if those cables are charged from renewables.
Of course, as Lloyd has argued before, electrified trucking still retains many of the problems of diesel-powered trucking, so any such efforts should be combined with significant investments in freight rail too. But there's still much to like about a relatively efficient "retrofit" solution that can integrate with existing infrastructure.
Combine a system like this with aerodynamic, fuel efficient hybrid autonomous trucks that can travel in caravan—as well as a last mile hub system for zero emission urban deliveries (including by bike!)—and you begin to see a pathway to significantly reducing freight emissions. Add in a political and economic revival of rail, and a concerted effort by the private sector to shorten and consolidate supply chains and localize manufacturing where possible, and the pieces of the puzzle start to come together quite nicely.
Yes, it's complicated. Yes, no one solution solves everything. But much like the discussion of e-bikes versus electric cars, we need options.
And this one appears to be getting closer to fruition.