The UK government publishes energy use statistics, and this includes energy efficiency of various sectors. Most sectors have managed to increase efficiency over the last 3 decades, for example road passenger energy consumption per passenger-kilometres has gone down ~24%, fairly steadily over that time. However Road freight energy consumption per freight-kilometres has gone up 3.3% over that time, and in 2018 was 10% higher than in 1990. It dropped in the mid nineties, but has increased significantly since then.

Energy intensity by sector, 1990 to 2020

What is the reason for this difference? One might expect the energy efficiency improvements would be fairly similar between passenger and freight transport.

  • No numbers , but one factor is speed. In our area I 45 has a 75 speed limit and semis move at least at that speed . The speed limit was formerly lower ( 65 ?). Air resistance for a big box with poor aerodynamics increases rapidly with speed. Jun 29, 2022 at 15:55
  • 4
    I suspect express delivery is to blame -- to deliver packages faster, you need more trucks with less payload.
    – LShaver
    Jun 29, 2022 at 16:55
  • The other aspect about the comment by @LShaver is such deliveries are mostly in urban & city/town environments where traffic flow conditions may involve a lot of start-stop traffic movements which results in more internal combustion engine fuel being burned when vehicles are stationary either because of traffic situations or when drives don't turn off vehicle engines when making or taking deliveries.
    – Fred
    Jun 30, 2022 at 10:42
  • @Fred: and more energy wasted by braking and accelerating again Jul 30, 2022 at 17:23


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