New research by a leading British bioenergy company shows that biomethane generated from food and drinks process residues has growing potential as a low-carbon alternative to diesel used in commercial vehicles. The study focuses on the use of biomethane for transport (BfT) technology in the commercial vehicle market.
The study was carried out by Aker Associates Ltd for Clearfleau Ltd, a designer and builder of tailored on-site bioenergy plants for food and beverage processors. It assesses drivers for change and barriers that may inhibit wider adoption of biomethane or renewable natural gas in commercial vehicles.
The report’s author, Andrew Winship of Aker Associates, said: “The pressure is on both government and business to reduce carbon emissions from transport, which lags behind other sectors in the adoption of renewable fuels. This requires new and innovative solutions. We expect to see growing numbers of food and drink processing companies looking to use this technology, which offers a low-carbon alternative to diesel for fuelling their commercial vehicle fleets. With both suitable vehicles and fuels becoming more available, supported through legislation and tax treatment, biomethane as a low-carbon transport fuel is set to grow substantially.”
Diesel is currently the dominant fuel for commercial vehicles. However companies are under social, political and environmental pressure to find low-carbon renewable alternatives. And with diesel prices forecast to rise further, the economic argument will become more compelling. Since electric vehicle technology is not viable for large HGVs, gas-powered vehicles are becoming more popular with their efficiency and performance also improving.
BfT technology is particularly appropriate for the dairy sector. Creameries use vehicles to collect raw milk from local farms and bring it to their sites for processing. Clearfleau’s unique approach provides a circular economy solution, enabling collection and delivery trucks to be powered by biomethane generated on site from the by-products of making cheese.
More food manufacturers and distilleries are looking at on-site solutions for their byproducts and residues. The recent decline in Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) rates mean that using biomethane as an alternative fuel to diesel is becoming more economic, with support through the government’s Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO).
The research indicates that more should be done by Government working with industry to stimulate investment and promote the use of cleaner biofuels in the commercial transport sector, including the classification of biomethane as a development fuel in the revised RTFO.
Currently the return on investment could be circa 14%. It varies according to whether the gas is supplied as Compressed or Liquid Biomethane, the level of incentives and other site-specific factors. With ongoing improvements in engine technology and greater interest in the supply of low-carbon fuels from residues, returns in the vehicle fuel sector should compare even more favourably to the on-site generation of electricity in the more widely used CHP engine.
To download a summary of the report, please visit here.
Source: Clearfleau Limited