Transportation & Logistics Takeaways – Cleantech Forum Europe and Cleantech Forum San Francisco

The last few weeks have been exciting ones for Cleantech Group. With back-to-back virtual versions of our Cleantech Forum Europe and Cleantech Forum San Francisco, we hit the ground running in this new decade. The mobility-focused sessions included:

  • Last-mile mobility
  • Heavy-duty commercial fleets
  • Utility opportunities in the coming electric vehicle wave

Here’s a taste of a recent discussion from a Cleantech Forum:

During the two weeks of hearing from many industry leaders and visionaries, I got an initial view into what the industry will look like in the coming year, decade and beyond.  3 big takeaways from this year’s forums include:

1. The appetite to transform the industry is bigger than ever

Corporates and governments alike are making ambitious decarbonization goals and putting significant amounts of funding into zero-emission transportation. Many governments are seizing the opportunity created by the pandemic and economic recession to develop green economies. At the same time, green economies are seen by many as an opportunity to recover from the recession and pandemic through new job and value creation.

The next generation of transportation is electric, and corporations want in. Investors and corporates are putting large sums of money into next-generation transportation companies and using emerging technology and electric vehicles to reduce their own emissions. Legacy industry corporates, such as those in oil & gas and automotive manufacturing, are building out new lines of business to replace revenues from fossil-based industry and stake their claim in the new economy.

2. We cannot talk about energy without talking about transportation

Nearly every time I heard someone talk about the electric grid, particularly in the context of decentralization and decarbonization, transportation was brought into the conversation. The transport electrification goals we have seen from governments in the past year have the potential to create a critical mass of electric vehicles in the coming decade. And electric grid operators are paying close attention. On one hand, the influx of electric vehicles will create significant new demand on the grid that, if left unmanaged, will cause costly infrastructure upgrades and create serious challenges for grid operators. However, it can also provide a new source of revenue, flexible load and energy storage for grid operators.

Unlike some other end-sources of electric demand, such as households, EVs have built-in energy storage. This will create a massive opportunity for low-cost, flexible distributed energy storage. If managed properly, this can prove crucial to even out energy production from intermittent renewables. In addition, vehicle-to-grid technology enables intelligent charging of electric vehicles, minimizing impact on the grid and providing flexibility services to utilities.

3. A range of solutions from all stakeholders are needed

All sectors of transportation are accelerating electrification, and each sector presents its own unique challenges and solutions, from energy management to propulsion. Not only is this pulling innovation out of the market, but it is pulling new stakeholders into the transportation sector. Partnerships between governments, automakers, energy providers, innovators and others will be crucial to scale up electric and intelligent transportation systems.