Calor declines move to biodiesel on risk to reliability

Calor has decided against switching 30% of its vehicles to biodiesel fuel after a review found that the move would impact on the reliability of the company's transport operations.

In 2011, Calor carried out a technical review that estimated a switch to 30% biodiesel would reduce CO2 emissions by around 6,135 tonnes per year.

However, the review highlighted a number of concerns regarding the move including a risk to the reliability of transport operations and increased cost to customers.

In the company’s latest Sustainability Report, Calor said biodiesel use has been shown to adversely affect vehicle reliability, particularly during periods of cold weather.

The company said: “As Calor’s busiest period is during winter, when hundreds of thousands of businesses and domestic customers rely on LPG delivery for heating and cooking, the reliability of our transport operation in cold weather is critical. Any risk to this through the use of biodiesel is unfortunately not acceptable”.

“Furthermore, a switch to biodiesel would require additional costs to the business of £400,000 per year. Whilst the higher production cost to get the fuel to our fleet, the reduced miles per gallon due to biodiesel’s lower calorific value, and the additional engine maintenance costs mean adopting biodiesel would inevitably and significantly increase the cost of Calor’s logistical operations”.

“This increase would have to be reflected in the final price of our product to end users, which at a time when energy costs and levels of fuel poverty are both increasing”.

Many companies are still reluctant to convert, even small percentages of their fleets, to biodiesel due to a lack of confidence in the energy source. However, some are making good progress towards CO2 reductions in other ways such as route efficiency and a reduction in driver hours.

Despite the decision against biodiesel, Calor reduced the distance vehicles travelled by 1.6m km per year, while driver hours saved amounted to 49,000. These reductions led to CO2 savings of 886 tonnes a year.

The natural gas and electric utilities company, PG&G, avoided the use of more than 17.6m gallons of petroleum last year, through the combined use of natural gas in its vehicle fleet.

According to PG&G this equals “the avoidance of nearly 58,220 tonnes of CO2 on a well-to-wheel basis”.

Clare Wenner, Renewable Energy Association (REA) Head of Renewable Transport, told edie: “It is for individual companies to assess the environmental and cost implications of the fuel they use. While biodiesel has undoubted environmental benefits, it may not be appropriate for Calor’s particular circumstances.

“The absence of market visibility for the use of low carbon fuels is also affecting investor confidence and therefore the confidence of those companies that have been looking at using these fuels for their vehicle fleets.”

Leigh Stringer

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