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New guide highlights low carbon and sustainable fuel opportunities for decarbonisation of commercial fleets

A new guide from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) for fleet operators shows how renewable fuels can immediately cut greenhouse gas emissions in road transport, particularly from commercial vehicles for which few low emission solutions are currently available.

While the focus has been mainly on vehicle electrification for meeting the UK’s net zero target as it applies to road transport, there are still major technical challenges to be overcome to electrify the commercial vehicle sector and, in particular, longer distance road freight.

Fergus Worthy, Senior Transport Consultant at Cenex said: “Renewable fuels have significant potential to deliver near-term carbon emissions savings for HGV operators. This new guide provides fleets with independent, impartial advice about the range of fuels on the market and is recommended for any organisation looking to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) currently produce around 15% of total road transport greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) with a similar contribution coming from light duty vans. Vehicles with long-haul duty cycles account for the largest portion of GHG emissions from HGVs.

The Renewable Fuels Guide, produced by the LowCVP and Cenex, and supported by CNG Fuels and Scania shows how the adoption of renewable fuels from sustainable feedstocks offers one of the most rapid, and economically viable, routes to lowering emissions for such vehicles, both new and those already in service.

The guide provides fleet operators with an overview of the range of low carbon and sustainable fuels currently available in the UK, with a focus on high blend biofuels for use in commercial vehicles. It demonstrates the business and environmental case for their adoption, featuring a series of fleet operator case studies.

Renewable fuels are mandated for use under UK legislation and are now present (comprising a few percent) in most road transport fuel now sold. The Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation Order (RTFO, 2007) requires large UK retail fuel suppliers to ensure that a minimum of 9.75% (by energy) of the fuel they supply comes from renewable sources by 2020, and 12.4% by 2032.

The latest figures show that 4.9% of total road fuel supplied in the UK currently comes from these sources.

The RTFO requires renewable fuels to meet greenhouse gas emissions and sustainability standards to be eligible under the scheme. The most recent government statistics showed that UK renewable fuel supplied to the market achieved average greenhouse gas emissions savings of 78% compared to fossil fuels. Nearly 70% of such fuel supplied was from waste feedstocks.

This latest statistics for renewable fuels supplied to the UK market suggested that they contributed an annualised saving of 3,990kt CO2-equivalent emissions; the same as taking 1.8 million cars of the road for a full year. (1.7 million cars if indirect land-use change – ILUC – is accounted for.)

The guide highlights the opportunities for the introduction of renewable fuels including biodiesel, biomethane, biopropane and hydrotreated vegetable oil. It covers case studies from organisations including McDonalds; McGregor Logistics; London Borough of Hackney; Luckett’s Travel; John Lewis Partnership; London Borough of Camden; Cornwall Council and Kuehne+Nagel.

Gloria Esposito, LowCVP’s Head of Projects, said: “The next decade is going to be critical for mitigating road transport greenhouse gas emissions if we are to meet the 2050 net zero target. Public and private sector fleet operators are under growing pressure to reduce the carbon footprint of their own activities and those of their suppliers. Renewable fuels can provide an immediate and cost-effective solution to achieving such savings, especially for HGV fleets.”

“Low carbon and sustainable fuels have an important role to play in the near and medium-term to reduce emissions from the commercial vehicle sector, particularly as electric and hydrogen fuel cell solutions in these applications present significant challenges and are at early stages of development.”

Martin Hay, Managing Director of Scania (Great Britain) Limited said: “Scania offers the widest range of alternatively-fuelled vehicles on the market today; our trucks and buses are capable of running on bioethanol, biodiesel, biomethane and HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil)”.

“In addition, we have lobbied extensively to promote the further uptake of renewable fuels, particularly in Europe, and look forward to seeing the use of these sustainable and environmentally-beneficial fuels continue to grow. As such, we wholeheartedly support the launch of the LowCVP’s guide to renewable fuels.”

Philip Fjeld, CEO & Co Founder, CNG Fuels said: “Renewable biomethane allows HGV operators to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and save money, and demand is soaring. We are working hard to make it easier for fleet operators to switch from diesel and help decarbonise freight transport.

“We are building a strategic network of refuelling stations on major trunking routes and have just opened Europe’s largest CNG refuelling station in Warrington. From next year we will be supplying the UK’s first carbon neutral fuel for HGVs, helping our customers achieve Net Zero emissions.”

Rebecca Kite, Environment Policy Manager of the Freight Transport Association said: “As the impacts of climate change take hold, there is an increasing need to reduce carbon emissions across the nation. Through FTA’s Logistics Emissions Reduction Scheme (LERS) I have worked with many fleet operators who are keen to reduce their emissions. We therefore welcome this Renewable Fuels Guide and look forward to the positive impact it will make on the industry.”

The Renewable Fuels Guide can be downloaded here