Electric timber trucks to be trialled in Scotland

Scottish Forestry has awarded £452,000 towards a three year trial which will test the use of state-of-the-art electric timber wagons to transport timber.

As part of the project, which is the first of its kind in the UK,  two Scottish timber companies, James Jones & Sons Ltd and Scotlog Haulage, are partnering with the Volvo Group and Cleaner EV to undertake the demonstrator project.

Around 7 million tonnes of wood are harvested from Scotland’s forests each year and transported to sawmills, board manufacturers and other processors, mostly on 44 tonne diesel lorries.

The forestry sector, whilst inherently green, is keen to use modern technology to tackle timber transport issues as part of its overall efforts to decarbonise and reach Net Zero.

Announcing the funding package, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Forestry is vital to helping Scotland achieve its net zero target by 2045.  Around 7.6 million tonnes of harmful CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere from Scotland’s trees each year and the timber used in houses and other wooden products lock away carbon for its lifetime.

“The forestry sector is innovative and always using new technology to increase its business efficiencies. I welcome this new trial and look forward to hearing more about the findings as we drive closer to Net Zero.”

A key element of the three year trial is that all the partners involved are committed to sharing their experiences of running the electric lorries with others in the timber and rural haulage sectors.

Creel Maritime consultants will monitor the use of the lorries and arrange knowledge exchange opportunities over the course of the following three years.

Neil Stoddart, Director of Creel Maritime, who are managing the project, added: “In terms of road haulage, the timber industry is pretty advanced in looking for solutions to decarbonise. For example, we are reducing diesel lorry miles on many projects and opting for transport by sea. Additionally we are reviewing using an alternative fuelled barge to transport logs across a remote Loch in the Highlands.

“This is a very exciting project but there are big challenges in running articulated lorries on electric power, mainly on cost grounds and infrastructure. This three year trial will look into all these aspects and I’m keen to share as much detail on this with the industry.”

James Jones & Sons Ltd, one of the largest sawmill groups in the UK, will trial a 40 tonne articulated lorry from their sawmill in Lockerbie to transport timber to their Hangingshaws national distribution centre.

Scotlog Haulage will trial a 44 tonne truck in the Highlands, moving roundwood timber from Inverness Harbour to West Fraser and other local mills.

During the three year trial, the vehicles will be evaluated for their achievable mileage vs battery consumption, durability, viability and total cost of ownership.

The two new Volvo electric timber vehicles are currently being manufactured in Gothenburg and are expected to be ready for use later this summer.

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