In 2018 household brands such as Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, TK Maxx and Ocado led the way in committing to running substantial numbers of their HGVs on natural gas. The new technology, which is more environmentally friendly than diesel, represents a significant proportion of new HGV registrations (10% of the 4×2 market) and is expected to continue to eat up diesel’s long-held market share, particularly following the introduction of 6×2 units at the back end of the year.
The John Lewis Partnership thrust themselves to the forefront of the movement, purchasing a 50-strong gas fleet and committing, along with their sister company, Waitrose, to going diesel-free by 2028. The move is set to save more than 49,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, equivalent to the carbon footprint of more than 6,000 UK households.
Gasrec’s partnership with the UK’s top performing FTSE 350 brand, Ocado, has also been vital in cementing gas as a proven concept in heavy-duty transport, with the station and vehicles being ordered and built in tandem to combat the chicken-and-egg infrastructure challenge well known to gas suppliers. Many more large businesses are expected to follow suit in 2019 to reduce their cost base and help clean up the environment.
The thriving natural gas market owes much of its growth to tighter regulations on diesel vehicles, which produce toxic gases, harmful particulate matter and carbon emissions in much larger volumes than the cleaner natural gas fuels. The government has also hastened the shift from diesel to cleaner fuels by setting alternative fuel duty at 50% of diesel duty until 2032, locking in financial savings for natural gas users for the next 13 years.
The pace of change in the transport industry is expected to continue in 2019 with more suppliers seeking to supplement natural gas with zero-carbon biomethane, a waste-derived fuel which can achieve a 100% CO2 reduction compared to diesel.