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Supersized biomethane filling station opens its doors as fleets turn to low-carbon alternatives

02 July 2020 #Features & Interviews #TNB News

A new biomethane refuelling station in Warrington is now open, signalling a possible sea-change towards a new fuel of choice for HGV fleets.

CNG Fuels’ ‘superstation’ will be Europe’s largest biomethane fuelling station. With its sister outlet, which recently opened in Northampton, the two sites are capable of refuelling more than 1,000 HGVs a day.

This more than doubles the capacity of CNG Fuels’ refuelling network which could previously handle up to 600 vehicles per day at its sites in Leyland, Lancashire and Crewe, Cheshire.

It all points to a phenomenal surge in demand for the fuel, which CNG says is up 800%, and there will be no let up.

Already CNG is planning to add another six to eight stations nationwide over the next 12 months to keep up with industry demand for biomethane or biomethane compressed natural gas, with the company predicting that the number of HGVs and buses running on natural gas will increase six-fold to 60,000 by 2030.

Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels, said, “We’re at a tipping point. Fleet operators are waking up to the urgency and scale of decarbonisation necessary for net-zero emissions by 2050 and we’re seeing demand for our fuel increase rapidly as a result.

“Our customers ordered hundreds of new biomethane fuelled trucks in 2019 and that trend is only set to accelerate over the next decade.

“We’re making the transition to carbon neutrality easier for fleet operators by developing a nationwide network of public access biomethane stations on major trucking routes and at key logistics hubs.”

CNG Fuels’ numbers make it easy to see why a growing number of fleets are seeing biomethane as a more attractive choice. The company says it has helped hauliers save 55,000 tonnes of CO2 since it began supplying renewable and sustainable Bio-CNG product in 2017.

That’s expected to rise to 90,000 tonnes by the end of 2020 thanks to major brands such as John Lewis Partnership, parcel company Hermes, and Home Bargains committing to switching from diesel.

100% of the fuel supplied by CNG Fuels is renewable and sustainable biomethane approved under the Department for Transport’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) scheme. The gas is currently sourced from waste feedstocks, such as food waste, cutting vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 85%. It also has the added benefit that it is 35%-40% cheaper than diesel.

The company is now securing supplies of biomethane from manure to create a fuel that will be net zero emissions on a well-to-wheel basis. It expects to begin offering fully carbon neutral biomethane across all sites from next year at the same price as the renewable biomethane fuel it currently supplies.

The station in Warrington is located at Omega South on the M62, catering to several major hauliers based in the area. It can refuel up to 800 HGVs daily and serve 12 vehicles simultaneously.

Its sister station in Northampton station meanwhile is situated at the Red Lion Truckstop off the M1 and can refuel more than 350 HGVs a day. The site is also part of a large scale UK-wide study, supported by the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK, to determine how renewable and sustainable biomethane can help slash road transport emissions.

Among the companies leading the way with biomethane are parcel company Hermes, which plans to use the new Warrington filling station as a springboard towards the replacement of its 200-strong fleet of diesel trucks, along with Home Bargains, Argos, Royal Mail, and DHL.

Meantime, John Lewis Partnership (JLP) announced last week that it is building a biomethane gas filling station of its own at its Bracknell Waitrose site to fuel 120 HGVs, as it pulls forward its ambition to eliminate fossil fuels from its fleet by 2030.

That station will be built in conjunction with Air Liquide and will open in December 2020, making it the business’s first on-site gas filling station.

Justin Laney, JLP partner and general manager of central transport, said, “The evidence of climate change is all around us, so it’s important we act now using available technology rather than wait for unproven solutions to appear.”

Mervyn McIntyre, Head of Network Fleet & Vehicle Compliance at Hermes Parcelnet, added, “We’re proud our of move towards a more sustainable future as the first parcel carrier to invest in biofuels for our first-mile fleet. This will ultimately benefit people across the UK as we all look to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Alan Beech, Fleet and Compliance Manager at Home Bargains/T.J. Morris, said, “Home Bargains started operating its first ten CNG tractor vehicles in December 2019. The experience has been very positive, and we have witnessed first-hand the benefits of running our trucks on biomethane. We have worked closely with CNG Fuels over several years to develop our gas fleet strategy and are delighted to see the first ten vehicles in operation. We are looking to add more CNG vehicles to our fleet and expect the first ten vehicles to reduce total GHG emissions by more than 1,200 tonnes a year, compared to running diesel vehicles.”

The supply of gas to the new refuelling stations will come through pipelines managed by gas network, Cadent.

David Jones, Transport Strategy Manager at Cadent said, “It’s clear that big-name companies are now confident to switch from diesel to gas as a green answer to fuelling their HGV fleets and supporting the UK’s journey to net zero. Biomethane is a ‘here now’ solution to tackling climate change and a low-carbon alternative to diesel for HGVs, while a zero-carbon option, in the form of hydrogen, is coming within a few years.”

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