Challenges of sustainable transport in Spain

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The search for sustainable transport is, according to scientific consensus, much more of a need than a simple desire. The inhabitants of the earth need to reduce our impact on the environment and internal combustion engines and fossil fuels are a very relevant part of that impact.

Alberto Merino, a member of the Corell Foundation Mobility think tank, published a few months ago in Supply Chain a series of proposals and ideas to focus on the development of sustainability on our roads.

Alternatives to achieve sustainable transport

If we start with passenger cars, Merino highlights in his column the importance of renewing the mobile parquet. “A state-of-the-art diesel vehicle emits between 80-90% less polluting emissions than a 15-year-old vehicle, and between 15-25% less CO2 emissions than a current gasoline vehicle. Today, 80% of emissions come from vehicles over 10 years old,” the text states.

This explains why there is often public aid to try to encourage the purchase of new and less polluting cars, since they end up translating into energy savings and reductions in pollution.

Sustainability in heavy freight transport

Despite being very close worlds, it is clear that freight transport has its own peculiarities compared to passenger cars, especially due to the volumes it has to deal with.

This becomes especially evident when we talk about electric trucks. “Trucks for urban use with a maximum weight of 6 tons and a daily journey of up to 120 km require battery packs of up to 90 kWh. Trucks with a maximum weight of 20 tons for a daily journey of up to 200 km require battery packs of around 200 kWh, which at current prices represent 40,000 euros, still viable both technically and economically. In the case of long-distance transport, the most representative segment of transport with a maximum weight of 40 tons and daily journeys of 800 km, battery packs with a capacity of more than 1,200 kWh would be needed, which are unfeasible from both a technical and a technical point of view. because of its weight, as well as economic”, Merino explains in the article.

Other technologies such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) do not have these limitations. However, compared to traditional fuels, they entail the additional difficulty of having fewer refueling points -although little by little progress is being made in this direction- and require great optimization with regard to mileage per year in order to be profitable, due to the strong investment that they suppose.

Helping sustainable transport

When it comes to making public policies, it is also necessary to strike a balance between what is pursued and what seems feasible to achieve. “If we take into account that manufacturers have reduced CO2 emissions from their vehicles by around 20% over the last 20 years, which is 1% per year, manufacturers will hardly be able to reach the target set, which is between a 2% and 3% per year”, says Merino.

To alleviate these possible difficulties, there is the possibility of carrying out reforms regarding the Mass and Dimensions directives and influencing the use of road trains, seeking to make travel more efficient.

Economic trends, with the appearance and development of phenomena such as electronic commerce and urban logistics, invite us to believe that the amount of transport that societies will need will continue to grow in the coming years. For this reason, it is important that these companies and public administrations keep these logistical needs in mind when drawing up legislation, urban plans and other elements that affect or are affected by logistics.

This will be the best way to make sustainable transport a reality and a spearhead when it comes to preserving the environment.

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