Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Freight Group Welcomes Biomethane Benefits for Road Haulage Sector

Government Aid to Those Operators Willing to Invest in New Low Emission Technology
Shipping News Feature

UK – One of the main complaints from the road haulage sector against government policy to press forward with the reduction of carbon emissions in the sector has been the apparent lack of support for commercial vehicles. To many in the industry it has appeared that private cars seemed destined to be the main target whilst diesel fuelled HGVs, traditionally criticised for their output of particulates and CO2, were being largely ignored. Now the recent announcement that the road freight sector has been identified as a recipient in the government's £500 million funding package for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) announced this week has been warmly welcomed, not least by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The association has been arguing for the need for financial support for the HGV sector to help invest in alternative fuels and technologies that will reduce carbon emissions and help improve air quality. The FTA responded to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles' (OLEV) call for evidence on how the new funding package for the period 2015-2020 should be allocated, highlighting the opportunities for the HGV sector to reduce emissions by utilising gas and biomethane as an alternative to diesel.

The announcement sets out £4 million in funding for HGV gas refuelling infrastructure. The FTA believes gas is the most viable option as an alternative fuel to reduce the environmental footprint. The package also continues funding for ultra-low emission vans, and raises the possibility of opening this part of the funding to commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. The FTA’s Head of Urban Logistics, Christopher Snelling commented on the announcement saying:

"This is a welcome development, it is good to see that the freight sector has been recognised within the funding package allocation and that there is acknowledgment by government that heavy goods vehicles have as many challenges as cars in reducing emissions. We anticipate that the funding package will contribute to increasing the uptake of gas and biomethane HGVs as the current lack of public refuelling infrastructure is one of the major factors preventing the market from taking off.

“The HGV funding is a relatively small part of the package, but we hope more can be allocated in future to this important area. Ultra-low emission vans are not yet widely commercially viable, so the continued support in this area is vital to help develop this market.”

Cenex, the UK’s centre of excellence dedicated to promote low carbon alternatives to traditional fuels, has successfully tested biomethane fuelled HGV’s, and companies such as Coca-Cola Enterprises have actively invested in the new technology, including installing a refuelling station at the company’s Enfield facility, following a full trial report from the government funded agency.