Gasrec, operator of the UK’s largest network of natural gas refuelling stations, has confirmed it is in discussions to build multiple new refuelling sites which could see its footprint more than double by the end of 2019.
Speaking today at Gasrec’s biggest ever industry briefing, Rob Wood, Gasrec Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re in advanced talks with a number of major fleets which have told us they wish to run gas-powered trucks – and we’re working with them to ensure they’ll have the right refuelling infrastructure in place.
“Our network of open access and dedicated on-site CNG and LNG facilities will grow as gas vehicle sales increase; we project the UK will need as many as 190 sites operational within a decade to meet demand.”
Gasrec expects the natural gas-powered HGV vehicle parc above 41-tonnes to reach 5,000 trucks in the UK by 2020 and 39,000 by 2027, following recent product launches by IVECO, Scania and Volvo. The impact of this many vehicles switching to natural gas would save 858,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum, based on a vehicle averaging 160,000km per year. This would rise to 1,482,000 tonnes of CO2 saved annually if 25 per cent of these vehicles were fuelled with biomethane.
James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer of Gasrec, explained: “Operators now have the choice to replace diesel-powered rigids and tractor units with cleaner, cheaper and quieter dedicated gas trucks. Today we have been able to show all the available gas products from OEMs right up to 44-tonne tractors. Everything is in place to support fleet take up – I think the question for most operators now should be why shouldn’t I buy a gas-fuelled HGV?”
Commenting on the projected growth of gas, he said: “The industry is preparing itself for significant take-up in demand as gas vehicles are moving into the mainstream – and now available across a wide power and duty range.
“The current refuelling infrastructure will continue to grow in line with sales, but it’s also sufficient for most fleet’s needs today. There’s even a Scottish haulier with an LNG-powered tractor doing tramping work – and no wonder, given they are benefiting from the huge 40 per cent saving in the cost of LNG over diesel.
“Our message to larger fleets which may require their own refuelling stations is to remember it can take anywhere from three to 18 months to build an on-site facility, due to local planning requirements. We’re keen to work with more firms to develop on-site solutions, but it’s important to consult with a gas provider as early in the process as possible.”
Compared with previous generation dual-fuel trucks, Gasrec says dedicated gas vehicles allow operators to enjoy fuel savings all the time. For a long-distance tractor unit clocking up 160,000km a year and running on natural gas, the annual fuel saving alone equates to around £18,000 per vehicle.
The Road to Zero
Gasrec also pointed to the Department for Transport’s ‘The Road to Zero’ white paper, published this week, which acknowledged the potential for natural gas to replace diesel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Westcott added: “It was a positive message from Government and we’re confident of the Government’s continued support for gas HGV adoption. Research by Shell at the end of 2017 found that of those considering purchasing alternatively fuelled vehicles, the most popular option was gas – interesting seven in 10 buyers.”
Fleets transitioning to natural gas will also support the Government’s new voluntary commitment to reduce HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent by 2025, versus 2015 levels. HGVs currently account for just five per cent of UK road vehicles, yet generate 18 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by road transport.
Compared with diesel, natural gas is around 40 per cent cheaper and can have a dramatic improvement upon air quality – emitting 70 per cent less NOx and 90 per cent less PM. Natural gas can also reduce CO2 emissions by 15 per cent, rising to 90 per cent with the use of bio-methane. Plus, it also reduces the average noise of a truck engine by 3dB.
Gasrec currently operates eight refuelling sites across the UK, including open-access facilities in Bridgwater and at the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), where today’s briefing took place. It also manages customer-based sites in Alperton, Bristol, Enfield, Scunthorpe, Swindon and Tamworth for major fleets including Veolia, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, NISA, B&Q and UPS.
In Q4 2018 Gasrec will open a dedicated refuelling site in Hatfield for Ocado, to support the delivery of 29 new IVECO Stralis NP tractor units which will run exclusively on CNG.