Alternative Fuels - What happened in December 2023?

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Alternative Fuels - What happened in December 2023?

2023 has been a busy year for alternative fuels.  The EV charging infrastructure has continued to grow in the UK. There are now more than 30,000 different locations with 53,000 different charge points - a 46% increase since 2022.

Hydrogen van tests took place in 2023 with Rivus and SSE collecting real-world data. Rivus are hoping to help their customers achieve net zero carbon emissions by trailing their hydrogen van whereas SSE are hoping to achieve a net zero carbon emission within their fleet. [GJ1]

However, it wasn’t all systems go for alternative fuels in 2023.  In September, the Government announced that the ICE vehicle ban for cars and vans will be postponed until 2035.  This delay was designed to provide more time to build infrastructure and improve the range of vehicles available.  Whilst welcomed by some, the delay was criticised as the timeline for HGVs was not changed (and so remains 2035 also). As Lesley O’Brien, MD of Freightlink, pointed out in our September Right Track event this is a huge concern for the haulage industry.

As many may have been slowing down in the run up to Christmas, the world of alternative fuels though continued to see some big announcements.

Bio-methane refuelling station opens in Doncaster

Due to the increase in businesses moving their HGVs from using regular diesel to biofuels for their fleets, more and more of these refuelling stations are opening to meet the demand.

ReFuels, the business behind the construction of Bio-menthane refuelling stations across the UK, plan to build this station with the capability of refuelling 12 vehicles at once and up to 500 vehicles a day. The station will be within an hour’s drive of Immingham Docks, allowing for fleets that operate to and from the dock to be able to run on 100% bio-methane.

Bio-methane has the potential to cut emissions up to 90% compared to diesel making it attractive option for companies operating larger vehicles who are keen to move to a greener option quickly.  ReFuel believes that this new Doncaster station will have a massive role to play given its central location.

ReFuel plans to further expand their bio-methane station network by opening another 30-40 stations across the UK, with a total capacity of 15,000 HGVs. They expect to pump more than 600,000 tonnes of bio-methane every year, the equivalent of cutting the UKs HGV emissions by 8%.

Hydrogen-powered electric charge points

Some forecourts in the UK have been struggling to install faster electric vehicle charging points because of the lack of grid capacity. As such, they have needed to rely on batteries or generators powered by diesel, bio diesel or heavy gas oil to power their charging points which negates some of the benefits of switching.

However, GeoPura who focus on renewable energy solutions, has launched its hydrogen-powered electric vehicle charging option to the public.

The charge point is compatible with all electric vehicles and will allow forecourts to start upgrading or installing their electric charging stations instead of waiting to get sufficient access to the power grid – which could take years.

Although using hydrogen-powered charging points will cost up to 50% more than having diesel generators to power their charging points, many motorists rightly see diesel generators negating the benefit of using electric so may be more accepting of the higher cost to serve.

Forecourts that are looking to upgrade their electric charging infrastructure but don’t want to invest or cannot afford the investment of a hydrogen generator, have the option to rent them from 6 months upwards, providing them a greener option until their power grid access is upgraded.

UK agrees a deal to continue the trade rules on EVs

As mentioned in our October Alternate Fuel review, the UK was facing a rise in the cost of EVs due to the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which exempted electric vehicles from any tariffs was due to end on January 1st. Now the UK government and the EU have agreed to extend the deal until the end of 2026.

If the original terms were to be brought back in, electric vehicles would face a £3,400 tax increase when sold in the UK. The TCA rules state that products must be substantially made in Britain or the bloc to qualify for the EU’s zero tariff, zero quota regime but because EV batteries are mostly imported from Asia, they have had to make exemptions for them, or the prices of electric vehicles would see a big rise making it a harder decision to move to EV from classic ICE vehicles.

What we’re looking out for in 2024

With nothing being mentioned regarding transport in the recent Autumn statement from the Government, there is a possibility something will be said in the budget announcement in March but it might not be good news. There is a potential fuel duty increase which could be announced in March which could push more motorists towards EVs but this would be an unpopular move by the Government for obvious reasons. However, during the last 4 months of 2023, there has been a downward trend in the price of second hand EVs and if this continues throughout 2024, we could see a lot more people looking to buy previously owned electric vehicles.

If you’re thinking of making a switch to a greener fuel future, register your interest in an EV charge card today.

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Matt Dodds
Head of Strategic Sales and Partnerships

With over 14 years of experience across two of the leading fuel card companies in the UK, Matt Dodds joined RFC Edenred to help lead the development of products to support our customer's move to EV and other alternative fuels, a transition he feels passionately about.