Leeds City Council has extended its trial of alternative fuels in its refuse collection vehicles (RCVs), following results that showed an almost 50% saving in greenhouse gas emissions through using biomethane.
The council trialled a Mercedes Benz Econic on biomethane for a year, resulting in a 49% saving in well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions compared with the same vehicle in the council’s fleet powered on diesel. A capital saving of £2,500 was also achieved in running costs compared with the diesel version.
Leeds council has decided to extend the trial for a further three to five years. It hopes to eventually increase the number of gas vehicles in its 1,100-strong fleet.
Council environmental assessment officer in transport policy Richard Crowther said: “We’ve already done a great deal to improve the efficiency of our fleet vehicles and reduce unnecessary mileage, but we’ve reached a point where that in itself won’t be enough to meet our environmental targets. We knew we needed to embrace low-carbon technologies too. This successful trial shows the enormous potential for switching sections of our fleet over to gas technology and we look forward to further savings following its extension.”
In the first stage of the trial, a temporary filling station was used. But the council has now installed a permanent filling station for the trucks, following funding from the Infrastructure Grants Programme. This could save the council an additional 15% in greenhouse gas emissions, and if the gas is generated on-site, this goes up to a 78% greenhouse gas saving in total.
The UK Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies advised the council on the project. Its head of technical support and consultancy Chris Walsh said: “With a pressing need to reduce greenhouse gases, it is imperative that we explore the use of new fuels such as biomethane wherever feasible.”
When Leeds reviewed its fleet before the trial began, it showed that although RCVs make up just 7% of its fleet, they contributed 25% of total fuel use.