New plans from the government pave the way to a net-zero future for the UK by 2050. Outlined in a ten-point plan, the Prime Minister has announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030. This will be a major turning point for the “green industrial revolution” in a bid to tackle climate change and create jobs in industries such as nuclear energy and offshore wind.
Many of us have taken small steps to become greener in our everyday lives, yet big changes like this can seem daunting. Abandoning the way we fuel our vehicles after so many years of relying on fossil fuels may seem an impossible ask but there are many benefits to the replacement.
Renewable fuels provider Gasrec recently conducted a government funded programme to trial, develop and demonstrate low emission vehicles for use in the road transport sector. The results of this trial highlighted the significant environmental and financial benefits of gas as a fuel over diesel, particularly in long-haul applications.
The Low Emissions Freight Trial (LEFT) report from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership tested a range of gas-powered trucks from different manufacturers, including vehicles using spark ignition and compression ignition technologies. It also looked at the performance of vehicles running on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG), including their biomethane equivalents.
After 12 months of testing, the study found that spark ignition gas trucks achieved well-to-wheel greenhouse gas savings of between 69 – 81% when fuelled with RTFO-certified biomethane. This saving was found across all cycles including long haul, regional, urban and city centre runs.
A second trial was conducted with compression ignition gas trucks, where a small quantity of diesel is used as the ignition source for the LNG. In service data was collected for nine months, demonstrating this technology could generate well-to-wheel greenhouse gas savings of 8 -14% across all cycles even with fossil-based LNG, versus diesel. However, with biomethane, the well-to-wheel savings increased dramatically to 65% or more.
The results of this trial shed light on just how much of a difference switching to biomethane could have on our emissions. The significant CO2 savings unlocked with this fuel source, particularly for long-haul journeys, are going to have a huge impact on the future of our planet. Without this change our environmental situation could become too severe to come back from.
We know that many hauliers will be reluctant to make the change due to the added capital and maintenance costs that come with it. However, this expense can be recouped in just two short years. It was also reported that vehicle reliability was similar to diesel models.
Thanks to the low cost of this fuel, an HGV covering 160,000 km/year can return the costs of updating from a diesel engine in just 24 months. This puts gas and biomethane well within the reach for most long-haul fleets. In addition, gas-fuelled vehicles are expected to deliver increasing profitability over their typical three-to-five-year lives.
It is also worth noting that driver feedback collected during the trial also confirmed that gas trucks were noticeably quieter to operate, bringing real advantages for night-time deliveries.
When it comes to environmental impacts, only time will tell. The logistics sector has to be more tuned in than ever to facilitate the demands of our government as we navigate through this battle against climate change. There are plenty of uncertainties ahead for hauliers, but the transportation sector is well-prepared to handle it.