Transport is the second largest source of carbon emissions in Australia after electricity production. The transport sector will need to change significantly for Australian and international greenhouse emission targets to be achieved.
Sustainable transport policy
Research within the Crawford School of Public Policy involves examining the policy settings required to achieve a sustainable transport sector. A particular focus is given to policies to encourage the adoption of efficient and low-carbon transport technologies. Ongoing research includes identifying factors that affect the fuel efficiency of aircraft fleets. Work is also being done on the effects of fuel prices on road transport outcomes such as vehicle choices, fuel use, emissions, traffic congestion, and road safety. This research is international in scope.
Renewable energy for transport
The 100% Renewable Energy group in the Research School of Engineering researches the deployment and integration of renewable energy working towards carbon-neutrality throughout Australia’s economy. Electricity will be the easiest sector to reduce emissions through use of renewable power. As electricity emissions approach zero, electricity is likely to be the primary enabler for reduced transport emissions through electrification of transport.
The coming shift to light electric vehicles will dramatically change the energy landscape. While much more energy efficient, electric vehicles will increase electricity consumption. The location and timing of electric vehicle charging could lead to increased stress on the transmission and distribution systems.
Liquid fuels have high energy density compared to batteries. Air travel and heavy transport (ships, long haul trucks) will therefore be difficult to electrify directly. Synthetic fuels can be produced from electricity through reactions driven from hydrogen and the capture of carbon dioxide enabling conversion of renewable electricity to transport fuels.