Biogas-fuelled vehicles and refuelling infrastructure could become much more common across the UK – following the introduction of a new technology by gas transport specialist Calvera.
The Spanish company has developed a mobile refuelling unit which can transport up to 4,000kg of biogas or compressed natural gas to refill fleet vehicles directly – an innovation they believe could bring a ‘fundamental change’ to the UK and EU biogas sector.
The new mobile units can also be used to transport biomethane to be injected into the UK gas grid, offering new market opportunities for biogas producers.
Calvera has already sold its first unit to gas and power multi-national Naturgy (formerly Gas Natural Fenosa) – where it will be used to fuel gas-powered urban buses in Jerez, Spain.
The two firms collaborated closely in the design of the mobile refuelling unit, which they say is the first of its kind in Europe. Naturgy now plans to develop a network of biogas and compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling infrastructure across the EU and Latin America, utilising Calvera’s innovative mobile refuelling units.
“There is a global drive to de-carbonise our transport, heat and power sectors, and biomethane is a wholly green fuel – but it’s a challenge to get biogas from the point of production and into CNG or biomethane vehicles, or to supply other heat and power users,” said Rafael Calvera (left), Chief Executive of the family-owned firm.
“These new mobile units can be used to refuel existing gas refilling stations – or can be offloaded, either singly or in multiples, to create a standalone refuelling facility wherever required. Moreover, they are versatile enough and can also be used to inject biomethane directly into the gas grid, which can bring additional carbon benefits in the heat and power sectors,” Calvera added.
This capability, known as “sector-coupling”, makes this type of innovation an important element in the decarbonisation of all energy, transport and industrial sectors – a key part of the UK Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, Rafael stated.
According to the company, a single mobile unit can potentially fuel up to 40 buses or HGVs, giving each a range of up to 300 miles, and could be installed in industrial estates, vehicle depots or edge-of-town locations. They could then be rolled out country-wide to create an integrated refuelling network.
“We believe our mobile units can fundamentally change the UK vehicle biogas market – which is currently less developed than other countries in Europe. We can transport biomethane or CNG from any location to the point of use in a cost-effective way.
“This offers new sales outlets to biogas producers for use in heat, power, transport and gas grid injection, as well as simplified access for car owners or fleet managers seeking to meet their RTFO obligations,” Rafael concludes.
The mobile refuelling units were developed by Calvera and Naturgy in conjunction with companies Altare Energia and Cetil.