On the UK’s roads there are more than 38 million registered vehicles and for this reason, I should come as no surprise that the transport sector is the most-climate polluting sector. Various initiatives in regard to the sector have taken place over the past number of years, including a government encouraged switch to change to ULSD (ultra-low Sulphur diesel), which initially worked, until the air quality began to feel considerable effects. Most recently, the UK became the first major economy in the world to implement a time scaled planned against climate change, in that of Net Zero 2050 emissions.
In regard to vehicle emissions however, it isn’t just climate change at risk. 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.
This article will take a look at what’s taking place in regard to transport in a bid to drive down the contribution to greenhouse gases.
Government scheme: Road to Zero
Electric cars and LPG Autogas are just two fuel alternatives contributing to an overhaul in the way we fuel our cars. 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.
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. This is just one example of a major city implementing schemes to tackle the constant threat of greenhouse gases. 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.
Of course, these initiatives are promising but, do the alternative replacements pose strong enough to replace fuel we have relied on for decades?
Electric powered vehicles
Electric cars are by no means a newfangled idea — they’ve been around for years, cutting fueling costs and enhancing efficiency. 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 drivers have been labelled the group who’ve enhanced the growth of electric cars. Research suggests that people aged 18-24 are the most likely to own an electric vehicle, with the main reason being the climate crisis.
Despite both major growth and development, 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.
LPG powered vehicles
Electric vehicles are still rather expensive in regard to initial purchase; however, they aren’t the only option. 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.
Alongside driving down the cost at the pumps as opposed to what be incurred by convention fuels, Autogas has less of a carbon footprint. 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 powered vehicles
Despite LPG playing a major role in the push towards a carbon-neutral future for the transport industry, it isn’t the only alternative. 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).
ULEZ has only been introduced and the Road to Zero is more than 20 years away however, the inroads in regard to driving down the carbon footprint certainly looks positive.