Britain Launches First Bio-LNG Filling Station
This launch marks the start of a nationwide investment in infrastructure seeking the ultimate prize of wiping out nearly two-thirds of the nation's heavy goods vehicle (HGV) emissions.
Gasrec's ground-breaking new facility in Daventry is the first of its kind. It will lead to significant cuts in pollution and fuel costs; allow gas-powered or dual-fuel trucks to use Bio-LNG; and will operate in a similar way to a traditional petrol station.
Bio-LNG is Gasrec's proprietary blend of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid biomethane (LBM) - a natural, green source of renewable energy produced from organic matter such as household food waste. Gasrec is Europe's largest producer of this fuel.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "The innovation shown by Gasrec and its partners in projects like this can help the UK meet its ambitious carbon reduction targets while creating green jobs to build the economy.
"This announcement represents a significant step towards achieving carbon and air quality benefits and I am very pleased that demonstration fleets from the Government's Low Carbon Truck Demonstration Trial will be refuelling from this site."
Compared with pure diesel equivalents, Bio-LNG can cut fuel costs by 20-30 percent and CO2 by a minimum of 20 percent, while delivering a 90 percent reduction in NOx and particulate matter emissions. Running the UK's HGV fleets on Bio-LNG could cut haulage emissions by up to 65 percent, according to a report by consultants Ricardo-AEA.
Gasrec commercial development manager, Doug Leaf said: "The launch today is a very proud moment for everybody at Gasrec. It clearly shows how our technology, innovation and ambition are leading the way to shrink pollution and costs for the UK's HGV haulage fleet.
"It is a pleasure to see our service not only saving customers significant sums of money but also helping them to play their part in protecting the environment. Big haulage companies are working and investing with us because they understand this intrinsic value.
"This is the important first step of a journey which we have high hopes will be a national success story."
Daventry is the first site identified by Gasrec as part of its national Bio-LNG refuelling network planned to be up and running by the end of 2015, helping the UK meet its 80 percent greenhouse gas reduction target by 2050.
The fuelling station officially launches on Thursday, May 23. The facility opens with Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Transport Norman Baker MP's visit to the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal site, near Junction 18 of the M1 in Northamptonshire.
The planned network will be conveniently located near motorway junctions so that 85 percent of the UK's HGV population will have at least one location within four hours' drive. The entire system will be monitored from a control centre in Daventry and is set to keep expanding.
Storing enough fuel to fill 700 HGVs a day, each of the manned stations will be equipped with five refuelling lanes and ten dispensers using 'fast-fill' technology accessed by drivers carrying smart key controls.
Key benefits of Bio-LNG:
- Cheaper than diesel
- Reduces the pollution and global warming impact of vehicles more than any other commercially available fuel
- Renewable - supply is effectively inexhaustible and conforms to all criteria set by the Renewable Energy Directive
- Proven engine noise reduction
- Robust supply chain, providing both security and resilience
Gasrec is specifically looking to serve multi-location logistics organisations and in the last 18 months has already installed eight refuelling stations at customer sites. Clients include B&Q, Sainsbury's, and Tesco.
The Daventry site is capable of fuelling up to 250 HGVs a day in the first phase from three Bio-LNG dispensers. The second phase will increase that capacity to up to 700 vehicles.
Gasrec will provide training and support to drivers. This will initially be carried out at the station, before customers' own teams are able to train their colleagues.
Fuel is stored at -160 degrees Centigrade and is pumped through vacuum-insulated pipework all the way to the dispenser nozzles. A five-person Gasrec team will staff the station 24-hours a day.
Gasrec's liquefied biomethane production plant in Albury, Surrey, is capable of producing more than six million litres of diesel equivalent a year. The plant is located next to a large municipal landfill site and the gases from the decomposition of organic waste are cleaned and liquefied. The fuel produced is guaranteed to be at least 96 percent biomethane and no more than four percent nitrogen.
Bio-LNG is delivered in liquid form and dispensed either as liquid or compressed gas. Unlike other forms of compressed gas, refuelling facilities do not need to be next to a high pressure gas main. This compressed gas has biomethane in its blend.
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.