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Decarbonising HGVs

ReFuels and John Lewis Partnership collaborate on the first biomethane HGV refuelling station in south-east England
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Decarbonising HGVs

This article first appeared in our Organic September issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 08 September 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

A new state-of-the-art biomethane refuelling station for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) has entered construction in Aylesford, Kent.

The site – with the capacity to fuel more than 500 trucks per day and save almost 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year – is set to make low-carbon logistics a reality for dozens of fleets in south-east England.

Meeting net zero

The news was announced by ReFuels N. V., one of Europe’s leading suppliers of renewable biomethane (Bio-CNG) for decarbonising HGVs, just days after the UK government published its long-awaited biomass strategy.

The strategy backed biomethane as an attractive fuel for HGVs and other harder to decarbonise fleets which could be more challenging to electrify.

‘Bio-CNG is the only fuel available today that can decarbonise the UK’s HGV fleet at the scale and pace required to meet net zero’, said Philip Fjeld, CEO of ReFuels.

‘Well over one hundred fleets across the UK are now adopting the fuel en masse and our new site in Aylesford, built on land acquired from the John Lewis Partnership, is a testament to this growing demand and the value fleet operators place on the enabling refuelling infrastructure’, Philip added.

Fuel from food and manure

HGVs account for 4.2% of UK carbon emissions, making the sector a key player in the UK’s goal to achieve net zero by 2050.

Renewable biomethane – derived by ReFuels from food waste and manure – is the lowest carbon, most cost-effective alternative fuel to diesel available to HGVs today, cutting emissions by over 90% while providing up to a 40% saving in lifetime fuel costs.

A one-of-a-kind fleet

The station in Aylesford is a joint venture between CNG Fuels, the infrastructure arm of ReFuels, and Foresight Group, a sustainability-led investment management company. 

Serving major UK trunk routes including the M20 and M2, the site is being built on land acquired by ReFuels from the John Lewis Partnership (JLP), adjacent to Waitrose’s south-east England distribution centre.

This will enable the retail giant to rapidly grow its fleet of biomethane-powered HGVs, which is already the largest fleet of its kind in the UK.

‘John Lewis Partnership took delivery of its first dedicated CNG trucks in 2015 and now operates 400 CNG trucks, which is the largest biomethane-powered truck fleet in the UK’, said Justin Laney, general manager of Fleet at John Lewis Partnership.

‘We are delighted that CNG Fuels has started construction of a high-capacity Bio CNG station in Aylesford, where Waitrose has its south-east distribution centre’, Justin added. ‘John Lewis Partnership is committed to all of its 520 heavy-duty trucks running on biomethane by 2028, and the Bio-CNG station in Aylesford is another important step towards realising this goal.’

Fuelling 6k HGVs per day

The new site – featuring 12 fuel pumps capable of delivering 19 million kg of Bio CNG annually – will add to the company’s existing network of 12 refuelling stations across the UK.

In total, this network can refuel more than 6,000 HGVs daily, saving more than 750,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions compared with diesel. 

By 2026, the company aims to have 30-40 stations in operation, with a total capacity of up to 15,000 HGVs refuelling per day and more than 600 million kg of biomethane dispensed annually – equivalent to cutting UK HGV CO2 emissions by 8%.

Other fleets switch to Bio-CNG

Demand for Bio-CNG from fleet operators is growing rapidly. In July 2023 alone, 3,799 tonnes of Bio-CNG were dispensed across CNG Fuels’ stations, equivalent to an 80% increase compared with the same period last year.

In addition to John Lewis Partnership, ReFuels supports over 80 other major fleets switching to Bio-CNG including Aldi, Amazon, DHL, Lidl, Royal Mail and Warburton’s.

ReFuels has one other station under construction in Bangor, North Wales, which is due to start operations in the next month.

At least two further stations are expected to commence construction this calendar year.

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