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17th October 2019

Fueling the Future of the Automotive Industry

The Committee on Climate Change, who advise the UK government on how they can successfully meet their targets in regard to cutting greenhouse gases has told the legislator that transport emissions will need to fall by approximately 44 per cent if they have any chance of reaching their targets by 2030. With transport emissions catering for more than a quarter of the UK’s entire greenhouse gas emissions, they are the largest single contributor. A report by the Office for National Statistics supports this, pointing to the fact transport emissions have actually grown by six per cent since 1990. Despite vehicles developing in regard to efficiency, the annual mileage total of the UK has grown by more than 70bn. Having recently released their 2050 Net Zero legislation, the first major economy to draw such measures into law, transport is one area set to undergo amendments as the nation bids to tackle climate change.

Alongside climate change, vehicle emissions also have alternative, damaging effects. 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, take a look at what’s being done to tackle transport’s emissions.

Electric development

Electric vehicles have existed for years, offering copious environmental and air quality benefits. However, the concept 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. Gen Z drivers have helped fuel the sudden rise of the electric car thanks to their demand. Research suggests that people aged 18-24 are the most likely to own an electric vehicle, with the main reason being the climate crisis. Infrastructure to support this upsurge in interest, however, 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 – the middleman

Although there are still developments occurring with the electric vehicle industry there are numerous other alternatives helping to 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.

Alongside offering a lesser carbon footprint, Autogas is, similarly, better for saving money at pumps. 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 – gaining popularity

LPG, however, despite being a readily available fuel source, isn’t the only gas option. 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).

Legislation

Developers and engineers within the automotive industry have, for years, been ploughing investment into enhancing these aforementioned fuel alternatives. As of late, however, the foot has been placed on the gas thanks 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. It isn’t just road to zero either — some of the UK’s major cities are also implementing plans. 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.

With diesel and petrol seemingly being fizzled out within the next matter of decades, can these alternatives do the job in replacing them?

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