Swindon has taken another step to becoming a major UK centre for alternative, low-emission fuels with the official opening of the country’s largest privately-owned compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling station.
The facility at logistics group Howard Tenens’ 25-acre Stratton site was opened by transport minister Stephen Hammond. The group now has four CNG stations across the UK which not only serve its own fleet but are open to other operators of natural gas vehicles.
Expanding the network of CNG refuelling stations is vital if the UK is to move towards a low-carbon transport strategy. CNG vehicles can have substantially lower emissions than diesel-powered ones while also reducing other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide.
Swindon opened the UK’s first public-use hydrogen fuel station two years ago at Honda's manufacturing plant and is leading the country is seeking commercial applications for hydrogen. Forward Swindon, the council’s economic development business, believes the town has a head start as it already boasts a bedrock of innovative companies working on fuel cells and low-carbon transport.
The official opening of the Howard Tenens CNG station was followed by a refuelling demonstration on a range of different gas vehicle types. The station was constructed as part of a project funded by the Swindon-based Technology Strategy Board (TSB) under its Low Carbon Truck Demonstration Trial Programme.
The CNG station has the capacity to refuel up to 125 vehicles per day and has been designed to ensure maximum reliability and performance.
It features twin compressors, three NGV2 dispensers for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), a NGV1 dispenser for cars and vans, and
Howard Tenens was one of the earliest pioneers of dual-fuel (CNG and diesel) vehicles in the logistics sector, holding its first trials in 2009.
It now operates 59 dual-fuel vehicles as part of a commitment to reduce the environmental impact of the company’s logistics operations, delivering up to 60% carbon savings vs. diesel when operating on biomethane. The Swindon depot operates 22 dual-fuel vehicles.
Howard Tenens commercial and marketing director Jamie Hartles said: “By extending our refuelling infrastructure we not only reinforce our commitment to dual fuel, but increase its availability to other third-party operators who want to benefit from the technology.
“The Swindon gas station opening represents another exciting step forward for Tenens Environmental, which explores new and innovative ways to add value in environmental performance for our logistics customers.”
Stroud-based Howard Tenens, a £58m turnover business, operates all over the UK from 15 depots and employs around 500 people.
The firm led a consortium with four other members in a successful TSB bid entitled ENTRIS (Evaluation of Natural Gas Trucks and Refuelling in Swindon) consisting of vehicle operators John Lewis Partnership and Lenham Storage Company along with Emissions Analytics and telematics company CMS SupaTrak.
The funding has enabled the conversion of 41 HGVs to dual fuel, 18 operated by Howard Tenens, as well as the installation of the gas refuelling station at Howard Tenens’ Swindon site. The project officially started on January 1, 2013 and will run until March 2016.
Under the ENTRIS project, CMS SupaTrak has developed a telematics system that enables both diesel and gas consumption to be monitored, enabling accurate reporting of vehicle mpg when operating on dual fuel. Under the ENTRIS project, in-service emissions performance will also be monitored through on-board emissions equipment being supplied by Emissions Analytics. Vehicles in all three projects will be monitored over a two year period and data sent monthly to TSB for evaluation – this will include information such as refuelling data, trip data, maintenance etc.
The official opening was one of Mr Hammond’s last duties as transport minister before losing his job in this week’s ministerial reshuffle.
Pictured: Transport minister Stephen Hammond cuts the ribbon to open the CNG station watched by North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, centre, and Jamie Hartles of Howard Tenens