Ever changing, always providing opportunity - technology marches on, creating possibilities for transport to improve environmental outcomes while often reducing costs, and increasing competitiveness and profit.
While transport companies can utilise many general technological advances to their benefit (such as lighting and light globe technologies) there are a large number of transport specific technologies out there too - from small scale advances available to all to advances in large scale transport systems like container vessels and aircraft.
Emissions from the transport industry have grown over 25% since 1990 and in an attempt to limit emissions the Australian Federal Government has targeted to limit emissions by 80% on their 2000 levels by 2050. With the Transport industry accounting for 14% of national emissions, future emission reducing strategies will be of significant importance to the industry if it is to contribute its share to reducing national emissions.
The transport and logistics industry is growing. In 2012 the total estimated domestic freight task for Australia was 557.3 billion tonne kilometres (Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (2006), Table ES1, pg xxiv). It is forecast to reach 682.63 billion tkm by 2020 (Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (2006), Table ES1, pg xxiv). It therefore is unlikely that continual technological advances to internal combustion engines will allow oppurtunity for the industry to reduce its emissions enough by 2050.
This highlights the importance of development and implementation of new and emerging technologies as they become available. Currently there are a wide range of concepts that are touted as effective strategies to reducing Australia’s transport emissions. Many of these concepts have been rolled-out on a trial basis or are currently in their infancy but have yet to reach significant scale across the industry. Any emerging technology has to demonstrate its improved efficiency over current standard practises but also be priced so that it also offers a greater competitive advantage over previous technology.
Due to the above factors and others increasing energy efficiency and lowering emissions takes time throughout an industry as large as the transport and logistics industry. It is estimated from concept to full fleet roll-out generally takes 15 years for road transportation vehicles, but is even greater for shipping and rail fleets Green, D and Schafer, A (2003). The importance of acting early is crucial if Australia is successful in achieving its emission reduction targets by 2050.
Despite the estimated growth of the transport sector it is likely that emission savings can be implemented on a wide scale. A recent report from the Australian Low Carbon Transport Forum based on input from transport experts found 47 individual emission abatement options for the transport industry Graham, P., Gargett, D., Evans, C., Cosgrove, D., Ritzinger, A. 2012. The options with the greatest abatement potential are the technologies that look to reduce the emission intensity of transport fuels and improve an engines efficiency of converting fuel energy to work.
Here you will find an overview of many of these technologies, as well as links to further information.