But as the new Waitrose deal suggests, the math is starting to change - especially in regard to heavy goods vehicles (HGV). With biomethane costs coming down, the extra cost of the trucks is increasingly offset by improved fuel mileage. Biomethane HGVs also run quieter than standard fossil-fuel trucks. And of course, for a company like Waitrose, the PR benefit of running green energy trucks is a kind of currency in itself.
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But the major reason that the new delivery system is commercially viable has to do with range. Previously, dedicated biomethane trucks only had a range of around 300 miles. In cooperation with other U.K. and U.S. companies, CNG Fuels has developed a new kind of engine that stores biomethane fuel at optimized pressure, effectively increasing the range for each truck to upwards of 500 miles.
That improvement, combined with more refueling stations and better pipeline infrastructure, means that biomethane trucks are now genuinely competitive. In fact, according to a recent report in The Sunday Times, other U.K. retailers and municipal agencies are already placing purchase orders for new trucks.
One final note concerning pleasant irony and food waste: Apparently, the city of Leeds is exploring biomethane for its new fleet of refuse lorries. Translation for Yanks: garbage trucks.
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