Fossil-free alternatives for heavy-duty transports in Germany

In Germany, heavy commercial vehicles are accountable for approximately 24 percent – or 40 million tonnes CO2e – of annual transport emissions. To reach the targets outlined by the Paris Agreement a drastic reduction in GHG emissions from transport is essential. This in turn requires knowledge on the different alternatives available today, in the local markets as well as on a global level, to identify pathways towards fossil free heavy-duty transports.

This report attempts to describe the current and near future situation of efficiency measures and low-carbon transport alternatives available within the German road transport system. The report shows that reducing future and current dependence on fossil fuels is possible, however the speed of change requires an agile fuel-strategy that can tackle the risks and opportunities arising.

Presently, for long-haul road trucks, renewable alternatives are limited and the infrastructure for several alternatives is in its cradle. However, the technologies are developing fast and with falling costs and continued investments, new fuel technologies will be viable in the near future. Also, successfully implemented efficiency measures can reduce both cost and emissions already today, increasing competitiveness and knowledge for the future.

Regarding short-haul and distribution, options are more versatile and the infrastructure more mature since it, to a large extent, can build on the existing service infrastructure for passenger cars. For these transports a collaborative approach becomes even more important, to utilize vehicles at hand in a cost- and resource-efficient way.

A procuring company shows leadership when choosing a different course from long used “paths” by taking initiative and responsibility to be a part of the necessary development, where environmental impact from transportation has the same level of importance as cost, safety and reliability.


1. A shifting landscape requires increased knowledge on available alternatives
The transport sector is developing rapidly. Keeping updated on current status as well as what lies in the pipeline is key to generate opportunities for action and make well-informed decisions.

2. Create a fuel-strategy: don’t put all eggs in one basket
With the uncertain developments of the economic and political landscape of emerging technologies and infrastructure progress, the key is to; find your business strategy for renewable fuels, establish a baseline and utilize multiple fuels/solutions to minimize your risk and create further opportunities for infrastructure.

3. Put demands on your suppliers – use your influence
Make use of all indirect possibilities to steer other transport actors towards sustainable solutions. Be clear about the fossil free direction you as a procuring company want to take; push your providers and influence the political developments to reach the CO2 reduction targets.

4. Cooperate with other actors in the value-chain – speed up the transition
Cooperation will increase sustainability and drive more efficient use. Horizontal collaborations and coordinated transports will enable more resource efficient utilization of the transportation system – and remember that emission reductions can be highly cost-effective!