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CNG Fuels opens Europe’s largest HGV bioCNG refuelling station in Warrington

In the UK, CNG Fuels Ltd, a leading operator of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refuelling infrastructure and provider of compressed biomethane (bioCNG) reports seeing demand for renewable biomethane rise by over 800 percent since 2017 as it opens Europe’s largest Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) refuelling station.

In the UK, CNG Fuels Ltd, a leading operator of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refuelling infrastructure and provider of compressed biomethane (bioCNG) reports seeing demand for renewable biomethane rise by over 800 percent since 2017 as it opens Europe’s largest Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) refuelling station in Warrington (photo courtesy CNG Fuels).

The new stations in Warrington – that CNG Fuels says is Europe’s biggest – and Northampton are capable of refuelling over 1 000 HGVs a day, more than doubling the 600-a-day capacity of its existing stations at Leyland, Lancashire and Crewe, Cheshire. two new refuelling stations to its network with the support of Ingenious.

The company is also planning to open an additional six to eight stations over the next 12 months as it expands its strategic network of HGV refuelling stations in line with burgeoning demand.

CNG Fuels has helped hauliers save 55 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) since it began supplying renewable and sustainable bio-CNG in 2017. That’s expected to rise to 90 000 tonnes by the end of 2020 as demand increases by an additional 200 percent, thanks to major brands such as John Lewis Partnership, parcel company Hermes, and Home Bargains committing to switching from diesel.

We’re proud of our 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. We’re delighted in the choice of Warrington as a location for a refuelling station, which will improve the efficiency of our network and allow us to run additional routes using biomethane fuelled vehicles, Mervyn McIntyre, Head of Network Fleet & Vehicle Compliance at Hermes Parcelnet

Biomethane cheaper than diesel and RFTO approved

According to CNG Fuels, all of the fuel supplied by the company is renewable and sustainable biomethane approved under the Department for Transport’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) scheme.

The biomethane is currently sourced from waste feedstocks, such as food waste, and is the most environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to diesel for HGVs – it cuts vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 85 percent and is 35-40 percent 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 carbon-neutral biomethane across all sites from next year at the same price as the renewable biomethane fuel it currently supplies.

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, said Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels.

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. The John Lewis Partnership has already committed to phasing out all diesel-powered heavy trucks from its fleet and replacing them with over 500 new state-of-the-art Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners vehicles running on biomethane by 2028.

Parcel company Hermes is also replacing its 200-strong fleet of diesel trucks, using Warrington one of its largest distribution hubs as a springboard. Other major customers adopting biomethane include Home Bargains, ASDA, Argos, Royal Mail, DHL and Cadent.

Home Bargains started operating its first 10 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 10 vehicles in operation. We are looking to add more CNG vehicles to our fleet and expect the first 10 vehicles to reduce total GHG emissions by more than 1,200 tonnes a year, compared to running diesel vehicles, said Alan Beech, Fleet and Compliance Manager at Home Bargains/T.J. Morris.

Part of a large-scale emissions study

HGVs account for 4.2 percent of UK carbon emissions1, so decarbonising the sector is essential to meet the UK’s goal of achieving Net Zero by 2050. The Northampton station 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 the UK’s first large-scale study of how renewable and sustainable biomethane can help slash road transport emissions, supported by the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK.

Part of the Waitrose CNG truck fleet supplied by Scania (photo courtesy Waitrose).

Strategic energy consultancy Element Energy forecasts the number of HGVs and buses running on natural gas to increase six-fold to 60,000 by 2030. In response, CNG Fuels is opening new sites across the UK including in Erdington near Birmingham, Knowsley near Liverpool, and Larkhall, Newark and Euro Central in Scotland.

By 2021, a high proportion of UK HGV traffic will pass by a CNG Fuels refuelling station, giving fleet operators unfettered access to carbon-neutral fuel. Bio-CNG will be fed directly to a number of these stations through gas pipelines managed by the gas network, Cadent.

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, a low-carbon alternative to diesel for HGVs, and a zero-carbon option, in the form of hydrogen, is coming within a few years. We’re working very closely with CNG Fuels to keep pace with demand, investing in our gas mains network long-term and supporting the development of infrastructure. We now have nine CNG public access refuelling stations connected to our network, including CNG Fuels’ new station in Warrington, the largest in Europe, said David Jones, Transport Strategy Manager at Cadent.

The Warrington and Northampton stations, as well as the Erdington CNG station under construction, have been supported by the fund manager, Ingenious.

We are delighted to support CNG Fuels with the development of the core infrastructure required to deliver CNG to HGV fleets. These investments will play an important role in both reducing CO2 emissions and improving air quality in the UK. We look forward to continuing to work CNG Fuels on the development of additional CNG stations which is strongly aligned with our investment strategy focusing on renewable energy and infrastructure, Guy Ranawake, Senior Investment Director at Ingenious.

CNG Fuels is also consulting on how its network of refuelling stations can best accommodate low-carbon hydrogen and battery electric technologies for HGVs, so that it can support customers when these become commercially viable.

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