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Published in: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 7/2023

19-12-2022 | LIFE CYCLE SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT

Assessing decarbonization pathways of China’s heavy-duty trucks in a well-to-wheels perspective

Authors: Xingyu Xue, Jianxin Li, Xin Sun, Amir F. N. Abdul-Manan, Sha Du, Huanran Liu, Shujie Xu, Mingnan Zhao

Published in: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment | Issue 7/2023

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Abstract

Purpose

Decarbonizing the heavy-duty truck (HDT) sector is a climate imperative but also a challenging element to meet China’s carbon reduction commitment. Various technological and non-technological measures are emerging. However, a comprehensive understanding is still lacking regarding the extent to which these measures can decarbonize the HDT fleet. This study aims to provide a systematic assessment of near and long-term strategies toward decarbonizing the road freight sector in China from a well-to-wheels (WTW) life cycle perspective.

Methods

A fleet-based dynamic model is developed to estimate the prospective greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of China’s HDT sector from 2020 to 2050. The case study considers the overall WTW life cycle GHG emissions including the fuel and energy production, distribution, and the use for vehicle operation. Relative to a base case scenario, four mitigation options are investigated: improvements in freight logistics, internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) efficiency improvements, adoption of advanced hybrid technology, and the use of alternative fuel types. The study quantifies the potential emission reduction and energy demand by deploying these measures synergistically through 2050. The implications of upstream fuel production pathways to the fleet GHG emissions are examined.

Results and discussion

The annual GHG emissions of China’s HDT fleet are projected to nearly double from 2020 to 2050 if no abatement technologies are implemented. Cumulative deployments of considered measures will enable the net GHG emissions to peak in 2029 and result in more than 60% emission reduction in 2050. Improving conventional vehicles through ICEV efficiency improvement and hybridization, complemented by improved logistics operations, presents important near-term opportunities to moderate the rise in GHG emissions. Meanwhile, the growing penetrations of battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks, coupled with sufficient access to lower-carbon sources, could facilitate deeper reductions in emissions in the longer term. Furthermore, low carbon synthetic fuel offers an opportunity to accelerate the decarbonization of older trucks still existing within the fleet.

Conclusions

There is no silver bullet to decarbonize the HDTs, whereby, on its own, each measure is inadequate to fully mitigate emissions from China’s growing freight sector. A broad mix of energy, powertrain technologies, and logistical solutions is needed to support an orderly low carbon transition for China’s HDT sector. This will require a more holistic regulatory framework, such as life cycle assessment approaches, to encourage innovations of all technologies for a sustainable freight transport future.

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Appendix
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Metadata
Title
Assessing decarbonization pathways of China’s heavy-duty trucks in a well-to-wheels perspective
Authors
Xingyu Xue
Jianxin Li
Xin Sun
Amir F. N. Abdul-Manan
Sha Du
Huanran Liu
Shujie Xu
Mingnan Zhao
Publication date
19-12-2022
Publisher
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Published in
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment / Issue 7/2023
Print ISSN: 0948-3349
Electronic ISSN: 1614-7502
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-022-02124-y

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