Three major retailers, Waitrose, John Lewis and Argos, as well as the haulier Brit European, have signed up to fill their high-mileage delivery lorries with biomethane as a compressed natural gas (CNG) which has been approved for use under the Government’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) incentive scheme. A by-product of the anaerobic digestion of food waste, biomethane CNG is 35-40 per cent cheaper than diesel and emits 70 per cent less carbon dioxide.

The companies will fuel their heavy good vehicles (HGVs) from the first biomethane CNG supplier to be approved under the RTFO scheme run by the Department for Transport, CNG Fuels. The natural gas fuel supplier currently has refuelling stations for the gas in Crewe, Cheshire, and Leyland in Lancashire and plans to develop a nationwide network of biomethane CNG fuelling points.

Under the RTFO scheme, the biomethane supplied by CNG Fuels will also generate tradeable Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates (RTFCs)

Philip Fjeld, CEO of CNG Fuels, said: “Renewable and sustainably sourced biomethane is the most cost-effective and lowest-carbon alternative to diesel for HGVs, and is attracting increasing interest. We are proud to be the first company in the UK to offer its customers RTFO-approved biomethane.”

Renewable fuel proportion may rise

First launched in 2008, the RTFO scheme currently obliges suppliers of transport fuel to supply at least five per cent of renewable fuels. However yesterday (30 November 2016), the Government launched a consultation on proposals to raise the RFTO in equal steps to 9.75 per cent (by volume) to achieve 5-6 per cent renewable energy in transport by 2020.

Transport accounts for around a quarter of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The RTFO currently stipulates that biofuels must achieve at least a 35 per cent GHG emissions saving, which will rise to 50 per cent from 1 January 2017.