UK network of biomethane fuel stations in development
Solihull-based CNG Fuels will be constructing and operating the new fuel stations, to be part of a nationwide network of HGV stations aiming to cater for what the company describes as ‘soaring demand’ for access to biomethane, a renewable alternative to fossil fuel-derived compressed natural gas.
Biomethane is derived from organic waste, such as food waste, treated in an anaerobic digester – where microbes break down the organic matter in the absence of oxygen to produce biogas, which is then cleaned and converted to biomethane. This may be done at varying temperatures, with higher temperatures speeding up the process.
CNG Fuels already operates two public-access renewable fuel stations for commercial vehicles, in Lancashire and Cheshire. A further two stations have already begun construction with support from investment manager Ingenious – one in Warrington on the M62 and another at Erdington, close to the M6 in Birmingham. Together, these stations should be able to refuel up to 1,400 vehicles a day, with the Warrington station predicted to be the largest public-access refuelling station in Europe.
Three more refuelling stations are due to open for public use by the end of the year, in Northampton, Larkhall in Scotland and Knowsley, near Liverpool, bringing the full network to seven. CNG Fuels states that the new stations will be able to refuel up to 3,000 HGVs a day in total, which is a marked increase on the 600-vehicle capacity of the existing stations. In 2020, a further eight refuelling stations are planned, marking a serious expansion for the company.
Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels, said that the company has seen interest from companies that in total run a third of the UK’s HGVs. Demand has increased by more than 300 per cent in 2018 and it is estimated that in 2019, its bio-fuels will reduce UK haulage greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35,000 tonnes.
A range of big-name companies are beginning to adopt biomethane across their HGV fleets, including ASDA, Argos, Royal Mail and delivery companies Hermes and DHL. Last summer, Waitrose and John Lewis began trialling biomethane in partnership with CNG Fuels at its Northampton station, which is close to Waitrose’s national distribution hub. The trial was funded by the Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) in partnership with Innovate UK, as part of the government’s Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial. The John Lewis Partnership now plans to convert its entire 500-vehicle fleet to renewable gas by 2028, which it says will cut emissions from its HGVs by more than 80 per cent.
Fjeld commented: “The spotlight on climate change continues to grow in intensity and the UK haulage sector has for many years been a laggard when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable and sustainable biomethane allows companies to achieve deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, cut pollution and save money – no wonder demand is soaring.
“We’re making it easier for fleet operators to make the switch from diesel by developing a nationwide network of public access biomethane stations on major trucking routes and at key logistics hubs.”