Positive Early Stage Report from UK Low Carbon Truck Trial

| United Kingdom

UK Low Carbon Truck Trial Report (Cover)The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has released the First Annual Report in relation to the Low Carbon Truck and Refuelling Infrastructure Demonstration Trial Evaluation, prepared by Atkins Ltd. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) are co-funding the low carbon truck trial: £11.3m provided by Government to pump prime procurement of low emission HGV technologies and their supporting infrastructure.

In January 2014, of the 354 trucks planned to be delivered through the trial, 175 trucks were in use, representing 49% of the total number of trucks planned. 18 low carbon trailers were also included and deployed. Most of the vehicles were dual-fuel tractor gas trucks with 10 others running on used cooking oil (UCO) and 5 (proposed) Scania dedicated LNG powered units. Two consortia that were to participate in the trial have delayed the start of their trial to review the performance of existing trucks before making a decision about technology choice.

UK LCT Trial Vehicles

UK LCT Trial Vehicles (Image: CENEX)

Data was provided to the evaluation team for 115 trucks in total including partial data submissions (e.g. lacking comparator vehicle data or mileage data). Full data submissions were only available for 75 trucks (43% of trucks on the road). Although the trial is at an early stage in terms of data gathering and performance monitoring, data feedback from the consortia is generally positive. The average substitution rate (the proportion of diesel replaced) for trucks operating on gas is currently recorded 46% and is increasing as initial teething issues with fleets are resolved and the availability of refuelling stations increases.

A total of 18 new stations are planned through the trial (five LNG stations, two CNG stations, 10 LCNG stations, 1 UCO station) and eight existing stations are due to be upgraded with methane vent capture technology. In December 2013, four stations were available as part of the trial, all accessible to other users on application:

  • two LNG stations at Muller-Wiseman’s sites in Bellshill, Scotland and in Droitwich, Worcestershire;
  • one LNG station at Stobart’s site in Appleton Thorne, near Warrington; and
  • one used cooking oil station at the United Biscuits’ site at Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.

The trial vehicles covered over 1,000,000 km per month (over 11,600 km per vehicle per month) in 2013. The average daily distance travelled per truck was 620 km.

By January 2014 the trucks for which data was available had reported covering over 4 million km and had consumed over 900,000 litres of diesel, 438,000 kg of LNG, 130,000 kg of CNG and 48,000 litres of UCO (partial reports only). This also included 41,000 kg of biomethane, saving 218,000 kg of CO2e on a TTW basis and 86,000 kg on a WTW basis (compared to diesel only mode). Improvements in the supply of gas should result in increased gas use and lower diesel use in the future.

UK Low Carbon Truck Trial Sites

UK Low Carbon Truck Trial Sites (Image: Gas Vehicle Hub)

The trends observed also show that vehicle performance within the fleets is improving and has not yet stabilised. The substitution ratios of the trucks are on an upward trend as early problems with infrastructure, fuel availability (leading to some vehicles having to cover part of their journeys in diesel only mode) and vehicle reliability are receding.

The first monitoring data shows that fleets are experiencing CO2 emission savings from the gas dual-fuel vehicles of up to 9% on a tank to wheel (TTW) basis and up to 6% on a well to wheel (WTW) basis. The low average emission savings are mainly due to some fleets experiencing relatively high efficiency losses at present as manufacturers are working to improve their systems, as well as additional factors such as gas availability issues (leading to some vehicles having to cover part of their journeys in diesel only mode).

The following key points arose at the trial workshop held in January this year, some of which are further discussed in the Executive Summary available at www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/321248/low-carbon-truck-trial.pdf

  • 2015 is likely to be a “turn-around year” for LNG supply with exports from Israel and the US expected to have an impact on the global market (it was also noted that shale gas is likely to have a significant impact on the market), these should reduce the LNG cost in the UK;
  • All main dual-fuel conversion suppliers are working on Euro VI vehicles conversions, with dedicated gas SI Euro VI trucks currently available from Scania, Iveco and Mercedes in the UK;
  • Regulations and standards should help lower costs, as well as increasing the international supply chain (example given of low cost Chinese tanks being supplied from China);
  • Views were expressed that DfT data needs to distinguish between LPG, CNG and LNG trucks in gas vehicle statistics;
  • Issues noted around bans on gas trucks in some tunnels (Channel Tunnel, Dartford Tunnel)

According to DfT, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) contribute 21% of surface transport CO2 emissions, but make up only 1.5% of road vehicles. The HGV sector needs to make a contribution to meeting the 2050 target for an 80% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions based on 1990 levels, set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act. Measures to reduce carbon emissions can also help improve air quality by reducing other pollutant emissions, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). HGVs account for 28% of NOX emissions and 16% of particulate matter emissions.

(Source: DfT)

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