Can funding drive the change to alternative fuelled low carbon hgvs?

Posted on: Wednesday, 29 August 2012 by Rachael Dillon

Earlier this year, £9.5 million was made available to kick-start the alternative fuels hgv market through a Technology Strategy Board (TSB) funding competition. Whilst this funding was welcome from a cash-strapped Government, there still remains a question mark over whether there will be sufficient public gas refuelling infrastructure to actually instigate real change in how we fuel our commercial vehicles. FTA’s vision is for funding to be devoted to refuelling hubs as the commercial case for dual fuel hgvs is already there. If operators have confidence that there are refuelling hubs strategically sited along the national road network, they need only invest in the vehicles and, where appropriate, back to base refuelling. Whilst back to base and private refuelling has been used very successfully by a small number of operators, a clear commitment to public infrastructure may make low carbon hgvs a mainstream option for operators

Last week, TSB announced 13 applications that had been successful including a trial from John Lewis Partnership working with partners to demonstrate a 70 per cent reduction in carbon emissions in a wide range of articulated vehicles. This will be achieved by combining recent research into truck aerodynamics with technology that substitutes the majority of the diesel used with bio-methane, and many other interventions. Meanwhile, United Biscuits will be utilising used cooking oil by creating a renewable fuel solution for use in 44 tonne articulated vehicles in a way that is innovative and provides greater greenhouse gas savings than other liquid fuel

The funding from Government has also increased to more than £11 million which together with private money brings the demonstration programme up to £23 million. TSB has advised that £2.4 million funding for 11 publicly accessible gas stations will be made available. The trials will run for two years, during which carbon reduction data will be gathered and analysed by the Department for Transport

Hopefully, these trials will illustrate the benefits of alternative fuelled vehicles and benefit those operators who are carrying out the trials, but the jury is still out on whether it can actually kick-start a refuelling infrastructure that will result in a significant proportion of the UK hgv fleet running on natural gas or biomethane.

Further information can be found here.

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