The government needs to invest in low carbon fuels for aviation and rail.
That’s the view of the Transport Committee, which urges the Department for Transport to change its “technology agnostic” mindset and focus on more specific solutions to decarbonising the sector.
Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) is one of the areas the cross-party Committee wants more focus on – with a Contracts for Difference model implemented. The SAF in question includes biofuels and synthetic fuels.
SAF is being touted as the solution of focus as it can be used with largely limited changes to aeroplane engines and airport infrastructure – whilst still heavily reducing the carbon emissions of taking a flight.
Hydrogen has been dismissed by the committee due its requirement of large storage space and because it is highly flammable.
It is pushing the government to quicken its process of electrifying rail – with just 38% of the network electrified but a goal in place for no more diesel trains by 2040.
Electrifying all railways won’t be possible, the committee concedes, as some are too isolated – for these, hydrogen and battery-powered trains were considered the answer.
Green hydrogen and ammonia were also considered the way to go for maritime transport.
In terms of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), it is calling for more clarity from the government in what low carbon fuel will be in place for them; allowing businesses to make the necessary investment and changes now for the infrastructure that will be needed.
By 2040, all new HGVs sold in the UK will have to be zero-emission.
Transport Committee Chair Iain Stewart MP said: “The government’s solution-neutral approach was understandable up to a point. But the time has now come for ministers, using the knowledge of alternative fuels we now have across all modes of transport, to show leadership and pick winners.
“With aviation – widely seen as one of the most high-polluting modes of transport for consumers – the government should invest in sustainable aviation fuels to help galvanise innovation and progress in the sector.”
The Department for Transport has been approached for comment.