CNG Fuels opens Europe’s largest biomethane refuelling station

Demand for renewable biomethane compressed natural gas (Bio-CNG), the low-carbon and low-cost alternative to diesel for HGVs, has soared 800% since 2017 and is set to more than double this year, CNG Fuels announces today, after adding two new refuelling stations to its network with the support of Ingenious.

CNG Fuels

CNG Fuels – Warrington

The new stations in Warrington – 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. 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 haulers save 55,000 tonnes of 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 more than double, thanks to major brands such as John Lewis Partnership, Parcel company Hermes, and Home Bargains committing to switching from diesel.

100% of the fuel supplied by CNG Fuels is renewable and sustainable biomethane approved under the Department for Transport’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) scheme. The gas 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% and is 35%-40% 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.

HGVs account for 4.2% of UK carbon emissions**, so decarbonising the sector is essential to meet the UK’s goal of achieving Net Zero by 2050.

Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels, said: “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.”

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 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.

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.

Mervyn McIntyre, Head of Network Fleet & Vehicle Complience at Hermes Parcelnet says: “We’re proud of our move towards a more sustainable future as the first parcel carrier to invest in bio fuels 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 bio methane fuelled vehicles.”

Alan Beech, Fleet and Compliance Manager at Home Bargains/T.J. Morris says: “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.”

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 gas network, Cadent.

David Jones, Transport Strategy Manager at Cadent said: “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.”

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

Guy Ranawake, Senior Investment Director at Ingenious said: “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.”

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.

* Manure gives off methane, a greenhouse gas 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Using methane as an HGV fuel prevents it from going into the atmosphere and reduces overall emissions. The EU’s revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) recognises biomethane from manure as a carbon negative fuel, and the UK is expected to adopt it in 2021 regardless of Brexit.

** The fifth carbon budget – The next step towards a low carbon economy, Committee on Climate Change, 2005

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