Top takeaways from The Journey to Clean Transport webinar

The PHA Group’s Account Director, Helen Salvin, took part in The Journey to Clean Transport webinar, hosted by Elevate, on 13th January alongside Laurent Schmitt, CEO of dcbel Europe, Barny Evans, director net zero at Turley, Dr Laurie King, senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Rajarshi Rakesh Sahai, an expert in smart cities and EVs.

The conversation ranged from the future of green fuels to the viability of the UK’s net zero commitments. Here are the key takeaways:

Consumers can decarbonise their homes through solar and EVs
A main focus of the panel was the challenges of transitioning to a net-zero economy within the home, a problem which is particularly pertinent to the UK given our over-reliance on gas. This was an issue highlighted by Laurent Schmitt, CEO of dcbel Europe, whose company proposes creating a renewable energy ecosystem in your home that incorporates solar power and EV charging capabilities.

According to Schmitt, by integrating dcbel’s technology into your home you can enable an “exchange of energy between car and home” meaning you can “charge during certain periods of the day to ensure you have sufficient capacity to drive, but you can also uncharge your car and feed the energy into your house during periods where electricity is expensive.”

The UK grid needs to innovate to keep pace with change in green transport
However, the UK grid will need to innovate to enable this exchange of energy, and this is one area that, according to Barny Evans, director of net-zero at Turley, requires urgent attention. While a lot of focus has been placed on the UK grid dealing with dual distribution from EV charging and hydrogen distribution, Evans pointed out that it is actually the regulatory and planning landscape that underpins any new construction project that is the biggest obstacle facing the UK’s transition to net zero.

“A lot of the local plans and policies are hopelessly out of date,” said Evans. “It can’t keep up with the speed of technology and if you read a local plan that was written ten years ago it’d suggest providing 10% of the area with EV charging. But now it is very different, everywhere needs to have charging.”

Hydrogen as a means to decarbonise heavy transport
Picking up the point about dual distribution, Dr Laurie King, senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, discussed the potential of hydrogen to operate energy intensive sectors. King claimed that much of the hydrogen produced is ‘grey hydrogen’ – meaning it is crated via fossil fuels – in fact, King said that as much as “95 or 96%” of hydrogen fuel is made this way. The panel agreed that more needs to be done to create green hydrogen – a renewable source – at scale to help decarbonise heavy transport industries.

Despite this Rajarshi Rakesh Sahai, an expert in smart cities and EVs, said that hydrogen maintained an “interesting option” but that the “technology” needs to adapt to help stimulate “adoption” across various emerging markets in the world.

The UK is on the brink of widespread EV adoption
There was consensus among the panellists that the UK is on the brink of widespread EV adoption. Helen Salvin, Account Director at The PHA Group, noted that through a combination of new technology by industry innovators – such as Instavolt – and effective media communication a lot of the challenges traditionally associated with EVs – such as range anxiety and fast charging – are being addressed.

Evans went one step further, suggesting that the UK Government’s plan to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2030 may be “almost pointless” because it’d be like “banning steam engines” thanks to widespread EV adoption in the next five years.

Here is a recording of last week’s event:

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