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Report finds significant benefits of renewable gas

Nottingham based gas refuelling infrastructure provider Roadgas heralds the findings published this week of a £20m UK government funded programme to trial, develop and demonstrate low emission vehicles in the road transport sector.

The findings highlight the significant environmental and financial benefits of biomethane (gas) over diesel, particularly when fuelling long haul heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

The Low Emissions Freight Trial (LEFT) results published this week by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership are timely given that the Department for Transport is currently consulting on its Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

LEFT was initiated 12 months ago with the aims of not only supporting industry-led trials but also encouraging the widespread introduction of low and zero emission technologies for commercial fleets in the UK.

The trial tested a number of gas-powered vehicles from a range of manufacturers, including those using spark and compression ignition technologies. It also included the performance of vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG) as well as their biomethane equivalents.

‘Well to wheel’ greenhouse gas emissions were assessed using UK standard emission factors for ‘grid average’ energy sources. The trial also assessed factors estimated for 100 per cent renewable energy sources to gauge the likely GHG-reduction as well as the potential for the widespread adoption of each technology.

Biomethane (gas) testing indicated there would be substantial well-to-wheel savings across long haul and regional cycles. Spark ignition gas trucks achieved well to wheel CO2 savings of up to 80 per cent.

David Rix, managing director explains: “It’s great to have independent trial data which clearly shows the significant CO2 savings which can be unlocked with gas. More exciting are the results from the biomethane (gas) fuelled HGVs. They are a vital component in transitioning to and supporting the UK’s ambition to become a world leader in zero carbon technologies.

“Each biomethane powered HGV typically saves 130-150 tonnes/pa of CO₂ when using 100 per cent biomethane compared to the same vehicle powered by Euro VI diesel running on a standard diesel blend.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that gas as a transport fuel can and will deliver substantial financial and carbon savings for fleet managers and the Government as it strives towards decarbonisation of transport and its net zero 2050 targets.”

Furthermore, the trial found that the additional capital and maintenance costs for biomethane (gas) trucks, based on journeys averaging 160,000 km/year, compare favourably to diesel trucks.  Capital investment can be recovered within a two year period due to the lower price of gas as a transport fuel. There is also the added incentive of increasing profitability for the total cost of ownership of a single truck, usually calculated over five years.

Rix continues: “The UK is a world leader in gas HGV engine technology. Jobs are being created in the manufacturing of fuel systems that are used globally in high pressure gas injection trucks. It is also estimated that 30,000 jobs will be directly created in the biomethane industry when operating at its full potential.

“There is no other sector of the UK economy where large CO₂ emission reductions can be so quickly and cost effectively implemented as in the HGV, long-distance truck sector.”