The government has recently pledged £11m of support to a demonstration programme that aims to encourage road haulage operators in the UK to buy and use low carbon commercial vehicles.

Tesco, the John Lewis Partnership, Robert Wiseman Dairies and the BOC Group are amongst the 13 companies leading trials in the programme, which will be managed by the Technology Strategy Board in partnership with the Department for Transport and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

Freight minister Mike Penning said, “There has been a great response to this competition from industry and the successful projects bring together a range of partners including fleet operators, vehicle convertors, gas hub providers and universities.

“These trials will reduce CO2 emissions from freight and provide important information from a range of real life situations that will increase industry confidence in low carbon trucks in the long term.

“For example, operators often cite lack of gas refuelling infrastructure as a barrier to the take-up of alternatives to diesel. These trials include £2.4m funding for publicly accessible gas stations which will encourage investment in low carbon trucks, and other vehicles, delivering long term benefits for the environment and reduced costs for operators.”

The government funding will help operators establish and run fleets of alternative and dual fuel heavy goods vehicles by meeting part of the difference in capital cost between traditional vehicles and their low carbon equivalents. Over 300 low carbon commercial vehicles will be involved in the demonstration programme.

The funding will also help meet the cost of the refuelling points for use by the trial fleets, including the provision of 11 new public access refuelling stations around the country, which will be available for use by other operators.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said, “This trial will enable commercial vehicle operators to showcase alternative fuel commercial vehicles. It will help to accelerate a wider understanding and acceptance of low carbon vehicle technologies, while enabling the development of alternative fuel infrastructures.”

The demonstrator trials include:

• The John Lewis Partnership working with partners to demonstrate a 70% reduction in carbon emissions in a wide range of articulated vehicles. This will be achieved by combining recent research into truck aerodynamics with technology that substitutes the majority of the diesel used with bio-methane, and many other interventions.

• A project led by G-Volution that will trial ten 44 tonne dual fuel commercial HGVs using their patented dual fuel technology ‘Optimiser’ and biomethane. The articulated trucks, converted to dual fuel, will be trialled alongside diesel equivalents, providing direct comparison data for different operating environments.

• United Biscuits collaborative project, which proposes to exploit the value in used cooking oil by creating a renewable fuel solution for use in 44 tonne articulated vehicles in a way that is innovative and provides greater greenhouse gas savings than other liquid fuel.

• J.B. Wheaton and Sons will trial, with other fleet operators, the use of 28 vehicles that will be fuelled from compressed natural gas or liquid natural gas blended with renewable biomethane to run dual fuel gas converted trucks. The project will also provide seven fixed refuelling stations and five mobile stations, which can be shared with other fleet operators.

• Robert Wiseman Diaries, collaborating with Chive Fuels, Cenex and MIRA, will trial the use of 40 new warranted dual fuel 40 tonne articulated trucks substituting diesel with natural gas from two upgraded public access liquefied natural gas stations, one in the West Midlands and one in Scotland.