U.K. jumpstarts low-carbon truck fleets with trial funding

U.K. jumpstarts low-carbon truck fleets with trial funding

green fleet

John Lewis and United Biscuits are among 12 companies signed up to a new project aimed at encouraging fleet operators to use cleaner fuels for heavy goods vehicles.

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) today launched a $36.5 million demonstration project, backed by $15.1 million from the Department for Transport (DfT), which will see fleet operators test out new low-carbon vehicle technology and refueling infrastructure.

About half the funding will support the deployment of more than 300 low-carbon commercial vehicles that will be tested by the companies.

John Lewis Partnership is hoping to use the cash to help improve the aerodynamics of its articulated vehicles and replace diesel with bio-methane, achieving a 70 percent reduction in carbon emissions in the process.

Meanwhile, Tesco plans to introduce 35 dual-fuel tractor units at its frozen food distribution centre on junction 18 of the M1, making use of the first large-scale commercial liquid natural gas (LNG) and biogas refuelling station that is being installed nearby by Gasrec.

Similarly, United Biscuits has revealed it will start using old cooking oil in its trucks, while Robert Wiseman Dairies plans to replace diesel with natural gas, in a move designed to reduce carbon emissions.

Significantly, $3.8 million of the funding pot will pay for 11 new public access refuelling stations to be installed around the country, which will be available for use by other operators.

Freight minister Mike Penning said he hoped the project would help overcome some of the cost barriers faced by fleet operators keen to use low-carbon fuel.

"These trials will reduce CO2 emissions from freight and provide important information from a range of real-life situations that will increase industry confidence in low-carbon trucks in the long term," he said. "For example, operators often cite lack of gas refueling infrastructure as a barrier to the take up of alternatives to diesel."

The other trials will be led by Ascott Transport in Derbyshire; Brit European Transport in Crewe; CNG Services from Solihull; G-Volution in Newport; Howard Tenens Associates from Gloucestershire and Wiltshire; J B Wheaton and Sons in Somerset; T Baden Hardstaff in Nottingham; and The BOC Group in Guildford.

The demonstration trial fleets will be run for two years, during which time usage data will be gathered and analyzed by the Department for Transport.

Iain Gray, chief executive of TSB, said the trial would help commercial vehicle operators showcase alternative-fuel commercial vehicles, while also providing a boost to the fast-expanding green auto sector.

"It will help to accelerate a wider understanding and acceptance of low-carbon vehicle technologies, while enabling the development of alternative fuel infrastructures," he said.

Photo of green trucks provided by LANBO via Shutterstock

This story originally appeared on BusinessGreen and is reprinted with permission.