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Breakthrough in gas powered HGVs requires incentives and infrastructure

FTA has called upon the Government to provide the necessary assurance to freight operators to embrace gas as a viable alternative to conventional diesel in its Gas Manifesto published today.

There is a wide range of decarbonisation measures to make moving goods by road more carbon efficient, however it is clear that in order to reduce reliance on conventional fossil fuels such as diesel, the UK must look to alternative fuels that offer further carbon savings including natural gas and ultimately biomethane. FTA’s Gas Manifesto provides a vision for how this could be brought to fruition.

Natural gas can be used as a road fuel either as a liquefied natural gas (LNG) or a compressed natural gas (CNG), producing less harmful emissions than conventional fuel. However when biomethane produced from waste is used, carbon savings in excess of 60 per cent can be made when compared to an equivalent diesel vehicle.

FTA’s Gas Manifesto supports the development of a national refuelling infrastructure on the main motorway networks. For smaller operators, public refuelling stations would give confidence to invest in gas-powered hgvs as part of planned vehicle replacement cycles as well as benefit larger companies. Treasury also urgently needs to confirm at least a seven year-rolling guarantee for road fuel gas duty rates to provide certainty to support vehicle and infrastructure investment.

Rachael Dillon, FTA Climate Change Policy Manager said:

"Gas is a credible option for industry to make serious reductions in carbon emissions whilst serving the needs of the economy in delivering goods and services. However, in order to significantly increase gas-powered hgvs on UK roads, Government needs to support the development of a national refuelling infrastructure on main motorway routes to enable long distance trunking for vehicle fleets. Working with a group of FTA members earlier this year, we identified 20 optimal locations for gas refuelling infrastructure. Government needs to give greater consideration to the requirements of the operator, and ultimate purchaser, of low carbon vehicles to shape policy that benefits rather than hinders investment."

John Lewis Partnership and UPS, both members of FTA’s Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) believe that biomethane represents a low carbon alternative to diesel.

Justin Laney, General Manager – Central Transport, John Lewis Partnership commented:

"John Lewis Partnership have a very ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions from our truck fleet. We believe that the best fuel to achieve that is biomethane gas. Biomethane is not only excellent for reducing emissions, it is also good for investment, jobs, and balance of payments.
If the fuel duty differential between gas and diesel was fixed for a longer period, and Green Gas Certificates were allowed in transport carbon reporting, then two of the main barriers to adoption would be removed."

Peter Harris, Director of Sustainability, EMEA at UPS said:

"At UPS we are continuously evaluating the market for technologies and alternative fuels to reduce the carbon intensity of our ground transport operations. Different parts of our operation require different strategies and solutions. For our HGV fleet on long distance routes the use of liquefied biomethane has great promise in terms of both reducing our carbon footprint and being economically viable.

A long term strategy securing the availability of liquefied biomethane for transport purposes and also committing to the fuel duty differential between natural gas (specifically liquefied biomethane) and diesel would provide us with both the means and the confidence in the economics for further investment and future deployment of additional gas fueled vehicles."

FTA’s Gas Manifesto builds on the report of the Department for Transport led Task Force on Fuel Efficient, Low Emission Hgv Technologies – Opportunities to overcome the barriers to uptake of low emission technologies for each commercial vehicle duty cycle. A principal conclusion of which is that a switch to gas can achieve the greatest potential for carbon reduction in hgvs.

FTA welcomes the report and its own Gas Manifesto shows how the development of national refuelling infrastructure on the main motorway networks can be achieved.

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