Friday, November 27, 2009

Australian Freight More Energy Efficient Than Ever

New Study Shows How Logistics Improved Over Twenty Years
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – A study published by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) has shown how technological development has made the country’s freight industries more energy efficient in the majority of sectors from twenty years ago.

The “End Use Energy Intensity in the Australian Economy” study compares energy use in various economic areas between 1989-90 and 2006-07 with the aim of identifying the factors that account for the nation’s energy consumption.

The report states that in all haulage sectors - barring air freight – the energy costs of transporting freight has reduced. The study concludes that:

“Within the freight transport sector, rail and shipping are amongst the least energy-intensive transport modes to distribute goods and services within the economy, with energy intensity of less than 0.2 megajoules per tonne-kilometre . This reflects that they can carry large loads over long distances, particularly for inter-state freight movements.

“Overall these transport modes contributed to more than 60 per cent of the domestic freight transport undertaken in Australia. Energy intensity of these modes also declined significantly, at more than 3 per cent a year over the study period, reflecting upgrades to rail infrastructure and improved cost effectiveness.

Though savings in road haulage were less, they still showed reductions in energy use of “…between 1 per cent (for light commercial vehicles and rigid trucks) and 2 per cent (for articulated trucks) a year over the period 1989-90 to 2006-07,” which the study attributes to economic incentives for trucks to reduce fuel use.

In regards to air freight’s increased use of energy the report says that: “Although energy intensity of domestic freight aviation increased over the study period, this had a negligible effect on overall trends in the freight transport sector, as domestic aviation contributed to only 2 per cent of energy consumption and less than 0.1 per cent of freight transport tasks.”

(pic: Freight energy use graph from “End Use Energy Intensity in the Australian Economy”)