Cenex has announced the results of its review of the Environment Agency’s (EA) Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) fleet.
Using vehicle simulation to assess the potential environmental benefits and cost performance of a broad range of low carbon technologies and fuels within their fleet operation, showed a positive decision for EA to use hybrid vehicles and biodiesel.
Cenex, who were then commissioned by EA, provided advice on a range of low carbon vehicles and fuels that are available to the fleet. Over two separate phases, Cenex performed analysis to help better understand how low carbon technologies would impact on their operations. Firstly, a review of the current technology where the performance of low carbon technologies was presented in a traffic light matrix. This highlighted through the use of colour and annotation, how vehicle and fuel operational practicability, total cost of ownership (TCO) and fleet environmental performance may differ from the current diesel fleet when new low carbon technologies are considered.
Secondly, analysis provided an accurate comparison of selected low carbon technologies, utilising the Cenex Fleet Carbon Reduction Tool (FCRT). FCRT is a simulation tool that can calculate fuel usage, carbon dioxide emissions generated and cost of ownership incurred by the operation of a fleet of vehicles over representative driving cycles. By using this tool, Cenex could calculate quantitative data and information to feed into the decision making process for choosing low carbon technology options, which then can in turn reduce and/or eliminate the need for trialling some technology options in the field.
The EA fleet, during phase 1, was split into groups of similar types of vehicle, where each group was analysed against its compatibility with currently available low carbon technologies and fuels. This high level review included electric, hybrid, natural gas, biomethane and biodiesel vehicles; and resulted in an estimation of the TCO and environmental performance of each option. The results of this technology review indicated that there were very limited options available for carbon reduction within the 4x4 and car derived van vehicle groups. However, the light commercial vehicle groups showed good potential for carbon and cost savings and so were taken forward for more detailed economic modelling and simulation work.
Phase two utilised FCRT to present a more accurate assessment of the economic and carbon reduction potential of the selected alternative fuels and technologies when operated within the EA fleet. Vehicle performance was modelled over two bespoke drive cycles, representative of EA fleet operations, which resulted in a precise assessment of the fuel use, CO2 emissions and TCO related with each technology type.
As part of the analysis, Cenex highlighted those areas where alternative fuels and drivetrain technologies had a positive impact on both fleet TCO and well-to-wheel carbon emissions. The two bespoke technologies identified as having a cash and carbon benefit were the purchase of small panel van EVs under a battery leasing model agreement and large panel van diesel hybrid vehicles. However, in other areas a judgement is required as to whether the additional cost is justified through emission savings. In addition, the analysis carried out by Cenex highlighted the positive impact that continuing to operate on biodiesel had on the fleet TCO and WTW emissions.
Ian Juston, national fleet services manager said “Gaining independent support and results verification by Cenex has given us the validation we were seeking to continue using hybrid vehicles and biodiesel within our fleet.” He continued, “It has provided a useful insight into which EV vehicles would best fit our operational needs, and has confirmed our fleet strategy going forward. We look forward to continually improving the performance of our fleet over the next few years; in the confidence we have considered all our current options.”
“Clearly the task of reducing fleet emissions through alternative fuels and technologies is particularly challenging for the EA fleet given the high number of 4x4 vehicles, which are not supported by current low carbon options” says Robert Anderson, programme manager at Cenex.
“However, our analyses have indicated that increasing the use of diesel hybrids and biodiesel within their LCV fleet would improve their TCO and carbon emissions. Although the use of EVs was highlighted as an option, the EA need to undertake further work to identify the optimal duty cycles given the range and charging restrictions of these vehicles. We look forward to continuing to work together to provide any further infrastructure guidance and planning support EA might need” concludes Anderson.
With a ‘greener’ low carbon fleet on the horizon, it is now not such an unreachable possibility that large convoys of vehicles cannot be more environmentally friendly, whilst still operating at its full potential.
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