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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S032061/1
Title: Decarbonising the UK's Freight Transport
Principal Investigator: Smith, Dr T
Other Investigators:
Mander, Dr SL Shearing, Professor P Cebon, Professor D
Turan, Professor O Hudson, Professor D Pawling, Dr RJ
Karamperidis, Dr S Greening, Professor PK Mangan, Professor DJ
Rehmatulla, Dr N Piecyk, Professor MI David, Professor B
Brett, Professor D Viola, Professor I Murphy, Professor AJ
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Argent Energy (UK) Limited BMT Group Ltd (UK) British Ports Association
Cargill Plc (UK) Chalmers University of Technology Chartered Institute of Logistics & Trans
Copenhagen Business School Department for Transport Environmental Defense Fund Europe
Fraunhofer Institut (Multiple, Grouped) Freight Transport Association Ltd Future Proof Shipping
Global Maritime Forum ImarEST International Windship Association
Lloyd's Register Group Maritime Strategies International Norsepower Oy Ltd
Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) Optrak Distribution Software Ltd Shell
Smart Green Shipping Alliance Stockholm Environment Institute Sustainable Shipping lnitiative (SSI)
UK Chamber of Shipping University of Antwerp University of the South Pacific
Department: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2019 Ends: 01 March 2023 Value (£): 865,735
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Apr 2019 Decarb Transport Full Prioritisation Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Like energy and automotive before it, UK freight transport is now on the cusp of a socio-technical transition away from fossil fuel dependency. This transition will require major investment to fleet and infrastructure, cause disruption to assets and business models, and will trigger significant reconfiguration. Whilst the scaling up of fossil phase-out is most likely to occur from the 2030s onwards, the next 10 years of investments are critical to enabling the transition, and to mitigating transition risks to the "hard to abate" freight sectors, and by association UK trade.

Our concept to address this challenge is for a Network of broad but interconnected academic excellence integrated with key and leading stakeholders in freight decarbonisation, that collaboratively develops and applies knowledge and understanding of rapid freight decarbonisation. We will use this Network to collect and distil current knowledge, as well as to identify and de-risk the key remaining research challenges that can unleash significant freight-decarbonisation targeted investment and guide enabling policy.

This Network connects five freight transport investments made by the EPSRC with a track record of a whole systems approach to decarbonisation of UK freight flows (international and national), and of closely integrating and embedding research with industry and policy makers alike.

The Network's efforts will be guided by a number of features of UK freight transport including: (i) significant fixed infrastructure with long timescales for investment (ii) lack of consensus on the specific technological solutions for each mode (iii) a complex combination of national and international transport systems (iv) besides the road and rail network, a limited scope for public sector investment (v) Complex governance involving a mix of UK, EU and international (UN) regulation.

The Network will align and integrate directly with UK government and existing initiatives including (i) Industrial strategy (ii) Clean Growth Strategy (iii) Road to zero (iv) Clean Maritime Council (v) UN agency fora (vi) World Bank's Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (vii) ongoing work on aligning investment to decarbonisation with: European Investment Bank, UK private sector institutions, IFC and IMF, and leading investment NGOs: 2 degrees investing, World Economic Forum, Global Maritime Forum, Global Shippers Forum, UK FTA.

To achieve this Network's objective of unleashing significant investment for freight decarbonisation, it is organised into five multi-modal and cross-cutting thematic areas and executed through a three-step approach:

Theme 1: Role of data and models for unlocking implementation decision making

Theme 2: Managing macroeconomic, policy and technology uncertainty, whilst mitigating climate risk in investment decisions

Theme 3: Fuel and propulsion technology pathways

Theme 4: Aligning drivers for decarbonisation investment/policy with local (inc. air pollution), UK, EU and Global climate policy and integrating into private sector decision making

Theme 5. Coupling the evolution of logistics with decarbonizing freight

Step 1: Refinement of current knowledge and perspectives into a focused set of research questions covering each of the five themes

Step 2: Commissioning of a series (~13) small projects which can develop further understanding of these questions and the methods suitable for addressing them

Step 3: Distillation of the Network's knowledge, in combination with the outputs of the small projects, to produce a strategy to drive freight decarbonisation investment, and an agenda and plan describing a series of further collaboration and funding activity that can sustain the Network
Key Findings
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