Developing a sustainable infrastructure for refuelling will be essential for increasing the usage of alternative fuels says DHL Supply Chain. In its latest white paper on the future for alternative fuels, it suggests that Europe needs to consider implementing a refuelling system first before alternative fuels can become mainstream for commercial vehicles.
Ian MacAulay, Innovation and Efficiency Manager at DHL Engineering says that a number of companies have looked at a options to lower their emissions, adding that it is imperative to have the right infrastructure in place first.
“We’ve seen customers from all industries come to DHL to ask about how they can cut their carbon footprint, not only because of regulation and environmental concerns but mostly because they are realising the economic potential of switching to more sustainable, alternative fuels.
“We are working with a range of businesses to spot where dual fuel might be appropriate, or identify where experimentation with bio-fuels, as we did with JD Weatherspoons, is an option.”
DHL says that currently dual-fuel is the best compromise as it has been designed to operate with weights in excess of 44-tonnes, and can offer significant CO2 reductions. DHL Supply Chain has experienced improvements with its 147-strong fleet cutting more than 1,200 tonnes from its CO2 emissions.
In the UK, the on-going £13.5 million funded Low Carbon Truck and Refuelling Infrastructure Demonstration Trial, has been developed to leave an infrastructure legacy to build on as there will be 26 alternative fuelling stations in operation after the trial concludes.
The trial is also implementing 354 trucks in that time that run on alternative fuels, most as dual-fuel trucks. Meanwhile, the government has committed to maintain a fuel duty differential between gas and diesel until 2024, which it hopes will encourage operators to invest in the technology.
But the British Department for Transport has maintained previously that although dual-fuel is good for the medium term, the use of methane is recommended for the future of HGV fuels.
However, Örjan Åslund from Scania, doesn’t believe the solution is that simple. “We believe that there is no single answer on the future use of alternative fuels, but that a multitude of technologies, including different levels of hybridisation and systems where electricity is supplied from external sources such as inductive roads, will be key.”
Alternatively-fuelled HGV trial covers more than 600,000 miles a month Meanwhile the first year of a British government-run alternatively-fuelled HGV trial has seen participants travel 620,000 miles a month on gas, used cooking oil and dual fuels according to a new Cenex report to their Department for Transport.
In the first half of the two-year Low Carbon Truck and Refueling Infrastructure Demonstration Trial, 175 alternatively-fuelled vehicles have been brought into service. 345 vehicles are planned for delivery in total. Four new refuelling stations have begun operation since December last year, with a further 14 yet to come on line.
Fleets running vehicles powered by cooking oil saw tank-to wheel CO2 emissions drop 84%, while dual-fuelled gas vehicle fleets noted a 9% decrease.
Since the beginning of the trial, the average amount of the diesel replaced by alternative fuels in a duel-fulled HGV has increased to 87% for cooking oil- and 46% for gas-powered vehicles. This has been attributed to improvements made in fuel availability and infrastructure.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA), which is taking part in the trial, believes the outcomes so far are crucial and encouraging.
Rachael Dillon, Climate Change Policy Manager for the FTA, said, “The Low Carbon Truck Trial is putting more gas powered HGVs on the road and will also provide much needed provision of public refuelling infrastructure.
“The report provides crucial early feedback from the Low Carbon Truck Trial and identifies the operational challenges of running gas HGVs. We hope that the trial can kick start the market and look forward to seeing further results.”
Co-funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the aim of the trial is to help operators learn more about alternative fuels and industry develop new technologies and infrastructure.
A group of 13 project consortiums were awarded funding totaling more than £23m to take part in the trial. Consortium companies include John Lewis, the Stobart Group, Tesco, Brit European and DHL, which converted a number of different trucks to trial the viability of alternative fuels.