The freight industry is continually looking for new and innovative ways of improving performance and maximising the efficient processing of available loads. With the added government pressure to reduce carbon emissions, this has become a continuous battle. |
In 2008, tough greenhouse gas (ghg) targets were set. They stipulated that the UK must reduce its ghg emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The targets were based on levels taken in 1990 and although there was no breakdown as to which industries were to make the biggest reductions, the logistics industry is a key player in reaching the targets.
There were already many different schemes in place to reduce carbon emissions but from the start it was evident that reliance on alternative fuels had to be considered more seriously and their use more widely promoted.
Natural gas, or biomethane was a possible candidate, but the implementation of the necessary infrastructure and the costs involved in converting vehicles were significant. However, long-term savings were projected and with Government backing the switch was entirely possible - even for HGVs.
Why Consider Alternative Fuels? With conventional fuel prices increasing at rates much higher than inflation, managers have to look at alternatives to minimise the costs of moving available loads. If they change their fuel type, it will have an effect on the cost of running the vehicle over its lifetime. The good news is that alternatives are now more readily available and refuelling is becoming much more like conventional refuelling.
There is also a big push among businesses to do the right thing and work with a sound environmental ethos. Potential customers with available loads are now more aware of climate change than ever before and are keen to know that the services they pay for are taking the measures required to address the issue.
Another reason for considering alternative fuels is that, due to the refinement and increased accessibility to technology, it is much easier today for businesses to convert. The provision of these fuels support HGVs too, which is a big plus for managers running large fleets.
The situation on the roads is ever changing and efforts to reduce congestion make switching fuels a sensible option. London, for example, now has a congestion charge as well as the London low-emission zone.
Types of Gas
There are several types of gas for HGVs but the most common is natural gas. It is used in a liquid or compressed gas form, giving off 5% less carbon dioxide and 80% less nitrous oxide than diesel, therefore, it has much less of an impact on the environment. The main issue for business owners is the initial outlay required to convert the vehicle - which costs around £30,000.
Even better than natural gas is biomethane which is almost achieving the ‘sustainably sourced’ status. Developed from processing wet organic matter through anaerobic digestion, it significantly reduces carbon emissions. Unfortunately, biomethane is not currently able to be sustainably produced.
So, for a logistics business to ensure the continued success of their operation, looking at alternative fuels is a must. Eventually it will become a necessity for moving available loads and with government help and support, this could happen sooner than we think.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching available loads with available vehicles. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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