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Coca-Cola puts the fizz into biogas trucks

Drinks giant buys 14 gas-powered Iveco lorries after trial finds biomethane can help cut air and noise pollution

Coca-Cola Enterprises is set to launch 14 new gas-powered delivery trucks from its North London depot after a 12-month trial found renewable biogas could help cut greenhouse gas fleet emissions by more than 60 per cent.

The Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies (Cenex) today revealed the drinks giant has invested in 14 gas-powered Iveco Stralis vehicles and a biogas refuelling station, which is expected to be commissioned at its Enfield depot in June this year.

The investment followed a year-long trial by Cenex evaluating the environmental and economic benefits of biogas for Coca-Cola. It concluded the biogas-powered vehicle achieved an estimated 50.3 per cent saving in well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, compared to an Iveco diesel-fuelled vehicle.

Cenex predicted Coca-Cola’s decision to install a permanent refuelling station at the Enfield depot could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60.7 per cent.

The company also revealed that Coca-Cola trialled a forklift truck converted to operate on biomethane at the Enfield site, which achieved a 71 per cent well-to-wheel CO2 saving.

The Stralis bio-gas trucks also produced 85.6 per cent fewer nitrogen oxides and 97.1 per cent fewer PM emissions compared to the diesel-fuelled truck, according to the study, and reduced noise levels by up to 10.5 decibels, making it more suitable for late night and early morning deliveries.

As gas-powered trucks are currently more expensive than diesel-fuelled vehicles, Cenex said the total cost of ownership would increase by 15.3 per cent. However, biogas prices alone were 12.8 per cent cheaper than diesel, and as a result, financial savings could materialise if diesel prices continue to rise.

Cenex predicted the introduction of stricter pollution standards on vehicles and the falling cost of biogas would mean total costs for both vehicles would be similar in the near future.

Chris Walsh, head of technical support and consultancy at Cenex, said he hoped the study would prompt other companies to follow suit by investing in lower-carbon vehicle alternatives.

“The success of this trial shows gas vehicles provide similar, if not better, drive performance and reliability levels than incumbent diesel technologies, while significantly reducing CO2 emissions,” he said.

“By releasing the report findings we hope to eliminate the need for repeated technology comparisons within fleets, thereby reducing the time required to deploy gas commercial vehicles throughout the UK. The report, therefore, gives fleet managers and decision-makers the confidence to deploy gas vehicles in their own fleet operations.”

Darren O’Donnell, logistics asset manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises, said compressed biomethane was attractive because it had the lowest carbon intensity of all commercially available alternative fuels.

“Gaining independent trial support and results in verification by Cenex has helped give us the confidence needed to make step changes in emissions performance through switching vehicle technology and fuels,” he said.

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