Electricity isn’t a viable means to power trucks, ships and planes.

Electricity is already powering lorries and ships. Electric planes are now entering the market. Future improvements in battery technology will further extend the range of transport operations that can be directly electrified.

The development of battery technology is key to the electrification of larger modes of transport, such as trucks, ships and planes. In recent years, electrification has begun in these segments due to remarkable improvements in battery technology.

Electric medium freight trucks with lower range requirements, typically for urban transport, are now available in the market and are being used for commercial activity. The energy requirement of these trucks is compatible with the capacity of existing battery technologies. Currently, the market for electric trucks is small compared to conventional trucks, but it is expected to accelerate in the 2020s. ,

There are ongoing demonstration projects for heavier electric trucks and further improvements in battery technology will increase both these vehicles’ range and size, extending the range of transport operations that electric logistics can cover.

Electric propulsion is already available for smaller ships that travel shorter routes and that can be recharged frequently, such as ferries, passenger ships and small cargo ships. However, deep-sea shipping will remain unsuitable for electric propulsion in the foreseeable future due to current limitations in battery capacity.

Several small electric planes have already been successfully demonstrated, and a two-seater plane is already available on the market. Current battery technology allows planes with up to 19 seats and a range of 350-400 km, and planes of this category are expected to be available on the market within the next 10-20 years. Given this, Norway aims to electrify the first commercial route by 2030, and to fully electrify all short-haul flights by 2040. There are also examples of somewhat bigger electric planes that have been announced, such as Wright Electric’s Wright aircraft with 186 seats and a range of at least 560 km. Wright Electric is aiming to have the aircraft in commercial service by 2030.

For long-haul trucks, long-distance aircraft and deep-sea shipping, battery electrification is unlikely to be immediately achievable. However, even here, electricity could still play an important role through the production of e-fuels like methane, methanol, ammonia and hydrogen.

References:

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DNV GL Maritime, “Reduksjon Av Klimagassutslipp Fra Skipsfarten,” 2016.

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Till Bunsen et al., “Global EV Outlook 2019 to Electric Mobility.”

Luftfartstilsynet Avinor, “Forslag Til Program for Introduksjon Av Elektrifiserte Fly i Kommersiell Luftfart,” 2020.

Leigh Collins, “SPECIAL REPORT | Can Renewables Make Airlines Carbon-Free by 2050?,” Recharge, 2020, https://www.rechargenews.com/transition/special-report-can-renewables-make-airlines-carbon-free-by-2050-/2-1-778590.

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DNV GL - Maritime, “Assessment of Selected Ternative Fuels And,” Imo 391, no. June (2019): 1–48.