Ocado opens natural gas refuelling station

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Ocado has opened its first natural gas refuelling station at its Hatfield Customer Fulfilment Centre.

The online supermarket says it is the first UK retailer to self-fund the purchase of an onsite grid connected station outright.

A fleet of 29 Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) powered by blended biomethane, a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), have replaced existing diesel vehicles, representing 20% of the online retailer’s HGV fleet.

The facility has been designed to accommodate 80 vehicles in total, and the business plans to increase the fleet to 40 vehicles in 2019.

Environmental benefits of switching to gas, it says, include 99% fewer particulate emissions and 70% less nitrogen oxide than the latest diesel standard. The trucks are also, on average, 50% quieter than diesel vehicles, so are kinder to residential areas.

Graham Thomas, fleet services manager at Ocado, said: “By investing in gas-powered vehicles, and in our first onsite refuelling station, we’re future-proofing our fleet and our business. Emissions from CNG are cleaner than Euro VI standards which start to take effect with the London Low Emissions Zone from April, and will soon be followed by a further 32 Clean Air Zones.”

Ocado’s gas refuelling station has been designed and built by Gasrec, a major fuel supplier for natural gas-powered HGVs on UK roads.

The businesses have agreed a 10-year support and maintenance contract, with Ocado also announcing plans to invest in natural gas technology at future sites.

The investment in natural gas is part of Ocado’s wider strategy to explore and invest in carbon-friendly alternatives to diesel fuel. The retailer is also testing electric and hybrid delivery vehicles.

Suzanne Westlake, head of corporate responsibility at Ocado, said: “The exciting work we’re doing with alternative fuels plays a huge part in becoming even more carbon efficient, helping us get closer to our goal of being the UK’s most environmentally-responsible supermarket.”

James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer at Gasrec, added: “Ocado reacted immediately to the range of dedicated natural gas vehicles becoming available to HGV fleets and we’ve been able to design, build and commission the onsite refuelling infrastructure in time to meet the new trucks entering service.

“It’s fantastic to be working with a company so focused on improving the sustainability of its fleet – a move firmly backed by Government, which has committed to supporting natural gas vehicles with a duty reduction until 2032."

In 2018, the Government launched its Road to Zero strategy. Part of this strategy included a 2025 target for HGVs to reduce GHG emissions by 15%, against a 2015 baseline.

Ocado’s new blended biomethane gas refuelling station and fleet of HGVs reduce CO2 emissions by 29% annually versus standard diesel trucks. 

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