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Electrification on the road freight transport system

Zeinab Raoofi, PhD student at ITRL, recently presented her research titled “System-level Impact of Electrification on the Road Freight Transport System: A System Dynamics Modelling” at her Half-Time Seminar. She explored how the road freight transport system responds to emerging technologies and predict its future developments through morphological analysis by analysing the impact of electrification on road freight transport through a combination of system dynamics modelling and a multi-layer model. She further explored how charging infrastructure availability impacts the adoption of electric trucks, and how investments by the public and private sectors can shape a sustainable trajectory with the help of System Dynamics.


In order to make ITRL’s research more accessible to both industry and the public, we asked a range of questions designed to give an overview of Zeinab’s Half-time Research and inspire you to learn more.

Could you explain what you investigated in this research?

Road freight transportation contributes over 7% of global CO2 emissions, expected to reach 16% by 2050. Achieving sustainable transportation necessitates a shift towards fossil-free road freight, with electrification emerging as a pivotal solution. This study aims to investigate the system-level impacts of electrification on the road freight transport system. We are in the process of transitioning from diesel to electric trucks, and this research is eager to investigate the dynamics involved in this transition from a system-level perspective. The study begins by analysing the effects of emerging technologies (Automation, Electrification, and Digitalization - AED) on the freight transportation system. It further explores the system-level impacts of electrification using a combination of system dynamics modelling and a multi-layer model and investigates the direct and induced impacts of electrification, along with potential policy interventions. Furthermore, the research delves into the impact of charging infrastructure availability on electric truck adoption using a mathematical system dynamics model.

Zeinab Raoofi

Could you summarise the main results of your research?

Electrification triggers several feedback loops and rebound effects and raises new questions, trade-offs, and dynamics. This research develops system dynamics models to recognise and understand some of these dynamics. The study provides stakeholders, particularly policymakers, with a system-level understanding of the different impacts of electrification and their ripple effects. The conceptual dynamics model identifies dynamic relationships within and between system layers, differentiating between direct and induced impacts. It also proposes potential policy interventions. The infrastructure system dynamics model describes the dynamic relationship between charging infrastructure expansion and the market adoption of heavy electric trucks. It assesses factors like technology maturity, awareness, and cost, evaluating the role of policy interventions in the adoption of heavy electric trucks.

Tell us about an exciting moment of your journey so far!

Developing system dynamics models was a thrilling experience, especially working on the results collaboratively with the expert group.

What kept you motivated during this journey?

I see myself at the beginning of a long journey. Exploring and understanding the dynamics of the "system transition" to electric trucks, with the ambition of making a small contribution to sustainability, has been a driving force.

And lastly, what will you do next?

Future research will focus on the co-transition of transportation and energy systems. It should be a collaborative transition to a more sustainable future. The dynamic problem begins with charging infrastructure, progresses to grid upgrades, and then to electricity supply systems.

The paper

You can read Zeinab's  research article here: