South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom, is under heavy strain to maintain an undisrupted electricity supply and contain costs, while at the same time reducing its environmental impact. In 2018/19, Eskom acquired 118 Mt of coal, at a purchase cost of approximately R 47 billion, of which around R7 billion (15%) can be attributed to the transport of coal via conveyor, rail and road. Eskom has been unable to meet its road-to-rail modal shift targets, and so road haulage still accounts for around 30% of coal deliveries. The “Smart Truck” or “PBS” demonstration project in South Africa has shown how an innovative approach to truck design and regulation can drastically improve the efficiency of road haulage, reducing the cost per tonne-km, while reducing emissions and improving safety. An existing Smart Truck trial in coal transport has demonstrated a 15% reduction in fuel use and associated carbon emissions per tonne-km, which translates into an approximate 6% reduction in total road transport costs. This was achieved through the introduction of innovative 74-tonne tridem interlink truck combinations, which has resulted in fewer truck trips and reduced costs for the same haulage task. At the same time, the trucks are more road friendly due to additional axles and fewer truck trips, and the trucks are designed to be inherently safer than the conventional coal interlinks currently in use. In this paper, we benchmark the costs and emissions of Eskom’s current road haulage coal supply operations in South Africa, and calculate the potential savings from migrating to 74-tonne interlink PBS truck combinations. We demonstrate potential savings of R 120 million and 35 000 tonnes of CO2 per year, while removing 300 000 truck trips from the roads.
Papers presented virtually at the 39th International Southern African Transport Conference on 05 -07 July 2021