A new funding programme has been announced to support research and development into decarbonising the UK freight sector. Among the winners are three companies who work in the shipping sector, Ship Technology reports. They will each be awarded a share of the £7m Freight Innovation Fund.
The money is intended to support SME companies who are working towards greener transport solutions across the freight sector. Among the winners from the maritime sector are Skyport Deliveries, who are based in Orkney, and are working to develop drones to improve transport and connectivity between the Scottish Isles.
Other winners include Staffordshire based CocoonFMS, who are working with Simarco Worldwide Logistics to create an automated digital system for managing port costs and shipping expenses. This will make ports more efficient by reducing administrative errors and delays.
The winners will receive tailored business support as well as funding, and have access to a ‘freight innovation cluster’ where they will be able to exchange ideas and form partnerships with relevant companies.
Announcing the funding awards, Transport Minister Richard Holden said: “Whether it’s drones for deliveries on remote islands or zero emission buggies – we want to invest in future technology that could transform how we move goods around the country while reducing emissions and traffic and creating skilled jobs.”
He added: “The Freight Innovation Fund gives innovators the opportunity to test their ideas and help our freight industry become greener and more efficient – unlocking better connectivity and boosting growth across the country.”
As part of the Future of Freight plan, the government has also announced a new forum that will bring together experts from across the freight sector, including rail, maritime, road, air, and warehousing. The Freight Energy Forum will explore clean energy solutions and work towards the target of carbon net zero emissions by 2050.
Transport Minister Richard Holden said: “We recognise that the transition to clean fuels is one of the biggest challenges facing the freight sector and we are committed to delivering a strong future for the sector that will help create good long-term jobs.”
He added: “Clean energy supplies and infrastructure is critical to the drive for a cleaner freight sector and the Freight Energy Forum will address those longer-term challenges across the whole industry.”
Experts from industry and government will discuss the types of energy infrastructure required, such as battery charging points or hydrogen refuelling stations, and assess where the infrastructure needs to be located. A range of different solutions will be considered to provide a consistent, cost effective, and sustainable freight sector.
An overall plan to establish a route to a zero-carbon future will be created. The forum will also review any regulatory obstacles that stand in the way of building the necessary new infrastructure for clean energy, and identify ways to overcome them.
The government expects the growing clean energy sector to create a series of new highly skilled and well paid jobs in the UK, thus boosting the economy.
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