Howard Tenens are one of the largest privately owned logistics companies in the UK and has been a UK pioneer in the adoption of gas as a vehicle fuel. The company began trials of CNG in 2009 and since then has worked closely with various conversion companies to develop the best methods for incorporating gas tanks to its vehicles. The original trial vehicles had gas containers on both the tractor unit and the trailer. This created some operational constraints, and later vehicles were designed so that all gas could be stored on the tractor unit, giving ranges of between 750 and 900 km on dual fuel operation. In some cases this has meant moving AdBlue and fuel tanks and repositioning the exhaust.
At the end of 2013 the dual fuel fleet expanded considerably to 57 vehicles, assisted by grant funding from Innovate UK. This means that 88% of its fleet over 18 Tonnes are dual fuel, making it one of the largest dual fuel fleets in the UK. It operates a mix of DAF and Mercedes vehicles.
The move to gas was originally motivated by a desire to cut carbon emissions. An initial review of available technologies identified gas as offering the highest available carbon savings without impacting on operations, combined with the potential for cost savings as opposed to cost increase. While other fleets have been cautious about the technology, Tenens has seen early adoption as a route to competitive advantage.
The environmental benefits of operating dual fuel vehicles are considerable. A dual fuel vehicle operating on CNG saves up to 15% CO2 compared to an equivalent diesel vehicle, and up to 60% if operating on biomethane. Introducing dual fuel vehicles into the fleet has been instrumental in driving down the company’s carbon footprint. In 2011-12 the company saved just under 1,000 tonnes of CO2 due to its dual fuel fleet, equivalent to an 8% reduction in overall fleet emissions.
The gas station in Swindon was opened in February 2014 and is available for third party access by agreement, with a number of high profile customers such as John Lewis Partnership, Brit European and Lenham Storage Company. The site has a grid connected CNG station. Howard Tenens aims to maximise its use of biomethane in the future as it is a much more sustainable fuel and can deliver greater carbon savings. Although current availability of biomethane is limited, there are many anaerobic digestion plants due to come on line soon and this will lead to increased availability of the fuel via the national gas grid in the near future.
“The benefits to our business have been considerable,” says Catherine Crouch, group Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Director: “Dual fuel vehicles have proved to be a viable alternative to diesel and are now firmly integrated into our fleet. Operating a dual fuel fleet differentiates us in the marketplace and reduces both our carbon footprint and that of our customers’ supply chain.”