Farmers’ co-op Openfield trials electric trucks in push for net-zero

The grain co-op, which wants to be net-zero by 2040, has partnered with electric HGV firm Voltloader on the project

UK farmer-owned grain co-op Openfield Group has announced a partnership with EV business Voltloader to trial fully electric trucks in a bid to cut climate emissions.

The partnership will see grain loads moved from Openfield member farm gates to their consumer customers using Voltloader’s all-electric fleet, which is currently focused on the bulk haulage industry.

Openfield says the trial is the start of an “ambitious plan to explore opportunities for alternative fuels” for its transport operation.

It will use Voltloader for some local deliveries, in order to gain “useful insights” into the necessary steps towards its overall net-zero commitment, while at the same time reducing their haulage carbon footprint today.

The co-op recently launched an Environmental, Social, and Governance plan, which includes a commitment to become net-zero by 2040 and becoming the leading partner of net zero solutions for seed, fertiliser, grain and storage.

Related: Openfield partners with farming charity FCN to support members

It says is recent own-fleet expansion means that in addition to Openfield’s increased service offer, by moving over half of their own grain, they now have a direct influence over their road haulage environment impact.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation of grain and oilseeds are the single largest contributor to Openfield’s tonnes of CO2 equivalent footprint”, said Richard Jenner, member service director. “While we seek to become net-zero by 2040, we are also committed to supporting all our consumer customers and farmer members on their own journey to net zero.

“Using vehicles powered by diesel alternative fuel options, such as electric, HVO and biomethane, will reduce our transport emissions by 70% to 85%”.

Recent loads have included deliveries into consumers at Bawsey, Long Buckby and Stoke Ferry from farms in the region of Voltloader’s base in Whittlesey, Cambs.

Related: Openfield grain co-op reports £2.7m profit after fleet investment

Currently the payloads are in excess of 24 tonne (up to 29 tonne for diesel HGVs) and the range for trucks on one charge is around 150 miles. However, Voltloader’s ultra-rapid 200 kW charging capability at its Whittlesey site allows the trucks to be topped up in only 90 minutes allowing a greater daily range for vehicles.

This will further grow with their vision to expand along the A1 in Lincolnshire and Cambridge and into East Anglia says Openfield,