12 May 2023


At the recent European Logistics Platform (ELP) event which took place on 3 May, some 50 EU policymakers and industry stakeholders met in Brussels to exchange on the needs to accelerate the transformation of freight transport in Europe. With the adoption of the AFIR and negotiations ongoing on the TEN-T network, securing renewable energy supplies and grid infrastructure is a significant challenge given the targets for the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure along the roads, urban nodes and ports. Representatives of the all actors of the value chain and policymakers discussed the way forward and the main challenges and opportunities for the transition towards zero-emission freight transport.

 Henna Virkkunen, MEP and member of the EP’s TRAN and ITRE Committees, hosting the event, emphasised that sustainable transport infrastructure is essential to reach the EU’s climate targets, while maintaining a technology-neutral approach. Ms Virkkunen welcomed the recent adoption of the Parliament’s position on the TEN-T Regulation, stressing that all major infrastructure projects should be finalised by 2030 on the core network, and 2040 on the comprehensive network. She also highlighted that the recent agreement on the AFIR with the Council is a good step forward to provide the minimum alternative fuels infrastructure but will require strong and rapid investments to meet the targets. Finally, Ms Virkkunen reminded participants that small players should not be left behind in this transition towards zero-emission freight transport: EU and national funding instruments should help these actors to make the necessary investments.

Lorenzo Lerra, X-Regional Energy Sourcing Manager, DPDHL Group presented the company’s roadmap for the decarbonisation of road transport. DPDHL aims is to reach zero-emission by 2050, thanks to several decarbonisation technologies which will evolve over the transition period. He highlighted that bridging technologies such as biofuels in long-haul road transport will be needed in the short to medium term to achieve the decarbonisation goals as real ‘zero-emission technologies’ for this type of operations are not yet fully available. Electrification of the truck fleet require a significant increase of electricity consumption, especially when the vast majority of trucks will charge at DPDHL sites.

 Aral Voskamp, Project Lead Sustainable Mobility, Port of Rotterdam, gave insight into the port’s initiatives in support of electrification of heavy-duty road transport. The ambition of the Port of Rotterdam is to build 3 to 6 charging hubs for electric trucks in the port – the first is expected to be completed this year – with a total capacity between 30-70 MW. ‘The lack of grid capacity is a major bottleneck for the transition towards zero-emission trucking’, he noted. ‘This requires important investments from public authorities by prioritising connections according to future projects, as well as regulatory changes.’

Lars Mårtensson, Environment & Innovation Director, Volvo Trucks, reminded participants that battery-electric, fuel cell electric and combustion engine trucks will be needed in the road towards decarbonisation. He noted that Volvo offers already today a full range of electric trucks, with a current maximum range of around 300 km. By 2030, Volvo trucks expects that electric trucks will represent 70% of its truck sales in Europe. Grid capacity will be a major bottleneck in the transition towards zero-emission trucks, as the road freight sector risks facing competition with other industries which will also require larger amounts of electricity. It is therefore important to focus on the grid capacity planning and the availability of green electricity.

Axel Volkery, Deputy Head of Unit, Sustainable & Intelligent Transport at DG MOVE reminded participants that the Commission’s objective is to accelerate the ramp-up of all sustainable alternative fuels, regardless of technologies (e.g. electricity, hydrogen, biofuels, e-fuels) or modes of transport. He noted that the main objective of the recently agreed AFIR is to ensure a minimum of sufficient publicly accessible charging/refuelling infrastructure to allow transport operations to take place everywhere in Europe. The market would then complement the network where the demand is needed. Mr Volkery referred to the important role of recent Commission proposals such as the Net Zero Industry Act or the proposal for the revision of electricity market design rules which could unlock and channel investments towards grid infrastructure upgrading. Finally, he mentioned that the EU and the US are working together on the joint recognition of the Megawatt Charging System (MCS) standard. As soon as international standardisation organisations adopt the standard, it should be transferred as a common technical specification under AFIR in order to allow charging operators to build/upgrade their facilities to implement this fast-charging system.

 Mr Godfried Smit, member of the ELP Steering Committee thanked speakers and participants for their participation, announcing that the ELP would be back later this year with new events, notably on the upcoming Customs reform and green logistics initiatives of the European Commission.

 The European Logistics Platform consists of more than twenty industry stakeholders representing a wide variety of actors involved in logistics and supply chains across Europe. Current members are ACEA, Amazon, BDL, CER, CLECAT, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Post DHL Group, duisport, ECG, ERFA, ESC, ESPO, FEPORT, FERRMED, Hutchison Whampoa, IRU, Logistics UK, Michelin, NLA, Port of Rotterdam, TLN, UIRR, Volvo Group.