Clare Scawthorn - technical manager, PRA.msg

Some of you may have seen the Government’s recent call for ideas on the Low Carbon Fuels Strategy. A welcome step for the forecourt industry as it shows policy makers are looking at wider options.

Personally, I think a hybrid approach is the only way we can get to Net Zero in the time frames we have, and it is encouraging to see an acknowledgement that this industry absolutely has a role to play in this, with a wealth of knowledge and ideas to bring to the table. Especially where we have existing infrastructure which could support adaptation of existing fuels, saving money and time.

The Petrol Retailers Association welcomes the wider use of low-carbon fuels, we just need to make sure the right steps are taken from the outset, and we have provided a formal response to the Department for Transport to reflect this. We have particularly emphasised the benefits of continued engagement with our industry throughout adoption of low carbon fuels, especially to better understand the make-up of existing fuel infrastructure and how sites operate, to determine the practicalities in the supply of low carbon fuels. For example there could be a multitude of low carbon fuel options, however a typical petrol filling stations is limited in how many grades they can hold, therefore a realistic approach needs to be adopted if they are to be stored and dispensed to customers.

We have also highlighted the need to take into consideration any further changes to the composition of fuel, for example if the blend walls are increased. Any outstanding issues with blended fuels need to be addressed and reflection given to any detrimental impacts on the existing fuel infrastructure, which could lead to increased costs to replace parts and for maintenance regimes.

With an expected shift to long haul HGVs being the main user of low carbon fuels blended into fossil fuels, we encourage liaison with companies and site operators where diesel is bunkered to best understand the demand and infrastructure they utilise.

We also recognise that hydrogen as a road fuel has a place, and that the existing infrastructure of petrol filling stations would be more able to supply hydrogen than many can provide a suitable fast charging facility for electric vehicles.

With the above points in mind, we proposed a demand and supply study is undertaken along with impact assessments. As with E10, we also recommend that any introduction of low carbon fuels should be mandated rather than a commercial led introduction, this would avoid some sites stocking low carbon fuels and others not.

Let’s hope things are going in the right direction, with a continued approach to consider all avenues to reduce emissions and further engagement with our sector is maintained, as the abundance of experience and ideas we hold, can help to deliver these changes.