Cutting diesel from the logistics sector: Clean Growth Fund & Barclays invest £3m in Sunswap

  • New investment boosting Sunswap’s growth to offer clean, efficient and cost-effective alternative to high emission diesel-powered refrigeration amidst looming diesel shortage and higher prices
  • Sunswap’s fully electric Transport Refrigeration Units provides 100% reduction in harmful air quality emissions
  • First investment in the UK logistics sector by Clean Growth Fund

Clean Growth Fund (CGF) and Barclays have co-invested £3m in Sunswap, a UK clean-technology company. The investment is another milestone, enabling Sunswap to accelerate efforts by the logistics industry to reduce its CO2 emissions, by offering a fully electric, zero-emission alternative to diesel-powered Transport Refrigeration Units (TRUs).

Sunswap’s next generation, zero-emission ‘Endurance’ TRU combines solar panels (covering the trailer roof), battery storage technology and low environmental impact refrigerants with cloud-based remote monitoring. 

Sunswap’s TRU offers 79-93% global warming impact savings (CO₂ reduction and the use of low-impact refrigerant), and total cost of ownership savings (dependent on use) of between 20-50% compared to diesel. Sunswap’s zero-emission refrigeration technology has the potential to make a major contribution to the decarbonisation of the cold supply chain. It is already being trialled by DFDS, the global logistics company, to deliver frozen goods across the UK, and is soon to start trials with other major European logistics companies.

Sunswap’s Endurance clean refrigeration platform analyses each client’s refrigeration needs, delivery schedules and routes. This ensures that the Endurance TRU can deliver the most efficient and environmentally friendly refrigeration solution, helping cold chain operators accelerate achievement of their decarbonisation strategies and save money. As well as being a zero-emission replacement, the Sunswap unit is ultra-quiet, allowing operators to avoid both urban tariffs and night-time delivery restrictions.

It is the CGF’s first investment in the clean logistics sector and is the 10th overall investment made by Barclays through their Sustainable Impact Capital Programme, which has a mandate to invest up to £175m of equity capital in sustainability-focused start-ups by 2025.

Stephen Price, Investment Director at the Clean Growth Fund said: “Cold chain owners and operators are under increasing pressure to decarbonise their operations and mitigate the rapidly increasing cost of operating highly polluting, diesel-powered refrigeration units. Sunswap’s technology provides a compelling and cost-effective clean solution and given the scale of the market opportunity, the environmental benefits of their refrigeration units are significant. We are therefore incredibly excited about Sunswap’s prospects for future growth, and through our investment, support their journey to commercialisation.”

James Ferrier, Head of Sustainable Impact Capital at Barclays said: “The Sunswap team have developed an innovative technology that has the potential to significantly decarbonise the food miles in global supply chains.  This focus on sustainability will play an important role in the transition to a low-carbon economy and we are excited to be supporting them on the next stage of their journey.”

Michael Lowe, co-founder and CEO of Sunswap said: “We are delighted that CGF and Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital have chosen to invest in Sunswap and support us in our mission to decarbonise the cold chain.”

“The logistics industry in the UK and globally is in the process of transitioning to using fully zero-emission technology for their transport refrigeration requirements. At Sunswap, we already have a working, cost-effective solution that is currently being used on UK roads to accelerate this transition.”

“We are proud to be working alongside investors whose ideals strongly align with Sunswap’s mission. This backing is hugely significant and will allow us to fulfil our goals in the years ahead.” 

Notes to Editors

There are around 100,000 refrigerated vehicles in the UK alone, with an estimated 30,000 refrigerated trailers operated by UK-based transport businesses, with an estimated 5.6m units (TRUs) on the road globally. Sunswap estimates that, by 2030, worldwide there will be 8 million units on the road, with a market value of £13.4bn.

A majority of current models rely on an auxiliary diesel engine to provide power for the cooling system – these are highly polluting source of harmful CO2, NOx and particulate matter emissions.  Globally, diesel TRUs are estimated to emit more than 50 MtCO2eq per year, equivalent to the emissions of around 30 million passenger cars.

Sunswap was founded in 2020.  It exists to decarbonise the cold chain with zero-emission through the development of world-leading Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) technology. This investment round brings Sunswap to £3.6m of equity investment as well as £1m non-dilutive grant funding.

In February 2020, the UK Government announced its intentions to remove the entitlement to use red diesel for transport refrigeration units on vehicles and generators. The new rules come into effect on 1 April 2022.