The transition to zero emissions in the HGV sector may require hybrid vehicles, according to a new report from the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

The report, HGVs and their role in a future energy system, addresses the decarbonisation options for HGVs as the UK strives to achieve a net zero energy system.

HGVs account for around 4% of total UK carbon emissions and this could rise to a 15% share by 2050.

Electrification of the HGV fleet is seen as the most promising long-term solution, but the fleet duty cycle and cost/packaging requirements pose challenges for existing technologies. The report says that gas-electric plug-in hybrid vehicles could act as a bridging solution from 2025 to 2040 while zero CO2 tailpipe emissions options are developed.

According to the report, the use of hydrogen, either in zero emission vehicles, or in plug-in hybrids, will require the supply of large volumes of cheap, clean hydrogen.

The report suggests that it is likely to be the availability of suitable vehicles, rather than the difficulty of generating and distributing sufficient electricity, which will be the largest constraint on the electrification of HGVs.

The research also shows that an effective carbon price across the energy system would enable a transition to low and zero emission HGVs.

The report says that there is a cost associated with decarbonisation of the energy system, and in the absence of a carbon price, other ways to counter the “naturally risk-averse nature of fleet purchasers” will need to be found if the uptake of new technologies is to accelerate.