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The changing face of fuel

26th September 2019 Print

In recent years the transport sector in the UK has faced stark criticism over its failure to reduce its contribution to global warming. Considering there are more than 38 million cars on the road throughout Great Britain, it should come as no surprise that it motor vehicles are one of the most significant contributors to harmful emissions however, they have now, in fact, taken over energy supplies in regard to their greenhouse gas emissions, with 26 per cent as opposed to 25. The government, in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint, have started to introduce considerably more serious measures — including 2050 Net Zero.

When considering the emissions that are produced by motor vehicles, it isn’t just climate change that we need to think about. Air pollution also affects public health, with 92% of the global population living in places where air quality levels exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) limits.  Emissions from transport are having a huge impact on our day-to-lives and our carbon footprint alike, so it’s imperative that we understand the new developments and fuel alternatives that are helping create a greener and healthier future for the way we drive. In this article, LPG suppliers, Flogas UK, explore the main ways that car energy is changing.

Paving the road to zero

Evidently, thanks to the major developments with vehicle technology, the way in which we fuel our cars in the coming years is set to change drastically. This is mainly due to the government’s Road to Zero Strategy, which aims to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040. The Strategy also plans to increase the supply and sustainability of low carbon fuels, as a way to reduce emissions from the existing vehicles already on our roads. 

Legislation isn’t just at a national level either, with cities across the UK doing their bit to battle the effects of vehicle emissions. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, introduced the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) on 08 April 2019, which stipulates that vehicles driving within the zone must meet new, tighter emissions standards or pay a daily charge.  The aim is to improve air quality and lower emissions from conventional petrol and diesel-run vehicles in central London, with emissions set to fall by as much as 45% by 2020. Despite the fact the likes of ULEZ is clearly producing positives in regard to stepping away from ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, what do the alternative fuel sources offer in terms of power and reliability? 

The evolution of electric

Electric vehicles offer a range of positives in regard to efficiency and a reduction in environmental damage, and their development has been ongoing for years. However, it was thought of as more of an ideal to aspire to rather than a serious catalyst in the fight against climate change. This has all changed in the last decade, with the development of advanced electric vehicle technology that has given electric cars mainstream credibility and appeal.

Generation Z individuals have been flagged as the reason behind the immense growth in popularity in regard to electric vehicles. Research suggests that people aged 18-24 are the most likely to own an electric vehicle, with the main reason being the climate crisis. Although the stigma regarding the vehicles has dissolved, and the cars themselves have become equally as capable as the diesel or petrol alternative, the infrastructure to support this upsurge in interest is yet to match the technology available. With a chronic shortage of public charging points, one of the biggest impediments to many buying an electric car is the fear of running out of power and the risk of not being able to recharge on the go.

The bridging fuel — LPG

In the interim period between electric vehicles becoming both affordable and readily available on the British market, there are alternative fuel sources, already established, that can help plug the gap. Autogas, also known as LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), is the most accessible alternative fuel on the market – with over 170,000 Autogas vehicles currently on the road across the UK, serviced by more than 1,400 refueling stations. 

Autogas is a popular choice among drivers who wish to keep both their pump costs and carbon footprint at a minimum. Extensive existing infrastructure, plentiful supply and serious cost- and carbon-cutting potential mean LPG is positioned as the ideal interim fuel in the move away from petrol and diesel, and towards Net Zero.

LNG for transport

Despite LPG offering immense possibilities in the transition towards a carbon-neutral future, LNG is worth significant consideration as well. As the cleanest burning fossil fuel available, LNG (liquefied natural gas) has quickly become the world’s fastest growing gas supply source.  As well as being highly efficient, it emits significantly fewer pollutants and offers CO2 savings of 20% compared to diesel, making it ideal for businesses who own large truck fleets and need to adhere to stringent air pollution controls.  Bio-LNG takes this one step further, offering CO2 savings of over 80%.  known as liquefied biomethane, Bio-LNG is a renewable fuel that’s created during the break down of organic matter, meaning it can be produced anywhere anaerobic digestion occurs (AD).

As of 2040, the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in the UK will no longer be allowed but, despite concerns, the various alternatives touched upon here appear to be more than capable of filling the void.