Decarbonising UK transport: Implications for electricity generation, land use and policy.

Astley Hastings, John Nelson, Kathryn Logan* (Corresponding Author), Jenny Milne, James Chapman

*Corresponding author for this work

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To ensure net zero, the UK needs to transition from conventionally fuelled transport to low emission alternatives. The impact from increased decarbonised electricity generation on ecosystem services (ES) and natural capital (NC) are not currently quantified, with decarbonisation required to minimise impacts from climate change.

Projecting future electric and hydrogen car, bus, and train energy demand between 2020 and 2050 can assist policymaker understanding of energy type and transport network prioritisation. In this work, predictions of the geospatial impact on ES and NC of renewable energy (onshore/offshore wind and solar), nuclear and fossil fuels were made, considering generation mix, number of generation installations and energy density.

Electric transport will require (136,599 GWh), much less than hydrogen transport (425,532 GWh) for all vehicle’s types in 2050. We estimate that to power electrical transport, at least 1,515km2 will be required for solar, 1,672 km2 for wind and 5 km2 for nuclear by 2050. Hydrogen approximately doubles this requirement. Combined electric and hydrogen will be needed to accommodate the range of socioeconomic requirements. Further reduction in energy usage will minimise impacts on ES and NC, with policies targeting a modal shift to public transport ensuring a more sustainable transport infrastructure in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100736
Number of pages16
JournalTransportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Early online date17 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Low carbon transport
  • Electricity generation
  • Hydrogen generation
  • Ecosystem services
  • Natural capital
  • Land use change


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