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New funding for heavy fleet operators moving to zero emissions

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Heavy vehicle operators can now apply for a share of a $127.9 million pot designed to help fleets shift to new zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) technology over the next four years.

The Australian Renewable Agency (ARENA) launched the Future Fuels Program at the weekend, which allows heavy fleet operators funding towards “enabling infrastructure” and “some” support for vehicle costs. ARENA is also looking to fund projects that incorporate hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and refuelling infrastructure.

The program, which was announced by Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reductions, Angus Taylor, at the SEA Electric manufacturing plant in Melbourne, is the latest iteration of the Australian government’s Future Fuels Fund.

It is designed to drive co-investment at scale in charging and refuelling infrastructure projects for future transport needs, including electricity, hydrogen or biofuels.

This package of funding, which is also available for light vehicle fleet operators for charging and electrical infrastructure, delivers on the next stage of the Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy released by the federal government on November 9 last year.

Under Round 1 of the Future Fuels Fund, ARENA awarded $24.55m to five companies for the construction of 403 electric vehicle fast charging stations spread across every state and territory. The first of these charging stations was completed and opened for use by the public on November 8, 2021.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said that this expanded program would build on the early successes of the Future Fuels Fund and drive the shift to ZEVs.

“Assisting fleet users to move to zero emissions vehicles means getting more zero emission cars and trucks on the road sooner, driving the road transport sector toward a net zero future,” said Miller.

SEA Electric said government assistance to industry is essential in aiding the transition to EV technology, and subsequently for the country to achieve its net-zero carbon emissions goals.

“Around the world, government assistance with regards to transitioning fleets to future fuels has been imperative to ensure the early uptake of the technology,” said Gillespie.

“Australia’s road freight sector accounts for 38 per cent of country’s total transport emissions, so political policy related to the conversion in this area to zero-emissions technology should be a priority.”

Australian Logistics Council CEO Brad Williams, said the increased focus on commercial fleets was a positive development and would help the transition to low and zero emission vehicles.

“A specific and targeted investment focus on the light and heavy commercial vehicle fleets will provide added impetus at an early, and important, stage of the transition and help fast track enterprise-level initiatives,” Williams said.

“Given the nature of Australia’s heavy vehicle fleet, the future availability of second hand low or zero emission vehicles in the marketplace will mean more affordable access for non-fleet businesses, over time.

“There are already a number of positive developments across the transport sector and momentum is building but the transition is influenced by a range of factors including government incentives, policy settings, access to the right technology, customer expectations and investor sentiment.”

Williams said investment in zero emission vehicle technologies is complementing existing emission reduction efforts in the freight and logistics sector including the voluntary adoption of the latest heavy-duty vehicle technology, such as Euro 6 trucks.

Other initiatives include enhanced driver training, digital technology to help route management and fuel consumption and use of renewable energy in warehouses and distribution centres.

“The world is moving and the transport sector has an important role to play in helping Australia meet its emission reduction targets,” Williams said.

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