Antrim-based natural gas distribution and supply company Firmus energy has teamed up with anaerobic digestion specialists Granville Eco Park to decarbonise its engineering and maintenance fleet.
Firmus energy will initially use a jointly branded van, currently being fuelled by Granville Eco Park’s renewable biomethane gas produced at its anaerobic digestion plant in Dungannon to showcase the sustainability credentials of compressed natural gas (CNG) technology, before transitioning the rest of the fleet to CNG.
The first van to be used by Firmus energy can travel over 200 miles with a single fill and has a small petrol tank as a reserve.
The environmental benefits are significant – biomethane produces up to 85 per cent less greenhouse gases and natural gas, and up to 30 per cent less carbon dioxide emissions when compared to a standard diesel alternative.
Granville Eco Park currently has a fuelling station on site where it fuels its own fleet with 100 per cent renewable biomethane and also transports the renewable gas to customers across Northern Ireland by road.
CNG refuelling stations are already commonplace for logistics and haulage throughout Europe and leading haulage and retail companies are already starting to replace their older diesel fleet with new CNG lorries. There is currently no means to inject renewable gas into the gas networks in Northern Ireland.
It is envisaged that injection will be available by mid-2022 enabling Northern Ireland haulage and logistics companies to improve their sustainability credentials by utilising biogas in their HGVs, buses and vans.
Speaking about the value of the partnership, Firmus energy Sustainability Manager Neil Gallagher said: “Heavy goods vehicles account for 17 per cent of all transport emissions but they aren’t able to utilise battery technology so there are significant environmental benefits to be achieved by transitioning large diesel vehicles onto compressed natural gas.
“Firmus energy is leading by example in adopting CNG technology in its engineering fleet and it will also equip us to advise commercial customers who are keen to make carbon savings for their own fleet.
“The rural nature of the Firmus energy network outside Greater Belfast means we are uniquely placed to introduce biomethane into the existing natural gas network and offer renewable gas tariffs to customers in the future, subject to regulatory approval.”
Commenting on the benefits of CNG for transport, Granville Eco Park spokesperson David McKee, Chief Technical Officer, said: “We process unavoidable food waste to generate biomethane, electricity and fertiliser in a proven, effective circular economy model.
“Renewable gas will be instrumental in decarbonising heat, power, and heavy duty vehicles and we are already transporting gas to factories and food processing sites throughout Northern Ireland using our own zero emissions CNG lorries.
“It’s great to be able to work with Firmus energy to showcase the benefits of CNG technology and we have been fortunate enough to use our own learnings to advise and help our customers.”
Firmus energy is already advising haulage and logistics customers on how best to decarbonise their transport businesses and is able to offer certified renewable gas to customers on the existing gas network to meet their own heat and power needs.
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