Posted: Fri 23rd Feb 2024

Successful trial of vegetable oil as fuel for gritters in Wrexham hailed for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Friday, Feb 23rd, 2024

A trial which has seen vegetable oil used to fuel gritters in Wrexham has been hailed as a success.

Wrexham Council has been piloting the use of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) to replace diesel in large goods vehicles in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

The local authority said winter maintenance vehicles had mainly been used in the trial so far, with results showing a 90 per cent reduction in emissions.

Speaking at a meeting this week, a senior official said the cost of the alternative fuel source was generally higher than diesel.

However, Darren Williams, the council’s chief officer for environment, said there were clear benefits to using it.

He said: “HVO is a fuel substitute that we’ve been trialling in the environment department in different types of vehicles.
“It’s a direct replacement for diesel and doesn’t require any changes to the operation of the vehicle.
“It does bring some considerable benefits in terms of its carbon reduction qualities.
“The latest trial has been on our winter maintenance fleet so we’ve been using that in the gritters that you see up and down the streets and it’s performing well.
“There isn’t a significant cost saving. In fact, it’s slightly more expensive for vegetable oil but you get the benefits of carbon reduction.”
The council previously declared a climate emergency in September 2019 and has been looking at a number of ways to decarbonise its fleet of 340 vehicles.

Data released by the authority shows its vehicles were driven around 1.5 million miles during the 2022/23 financial year, producing around 1,500 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Councillors in attendance at a meeting of the council’s executive board on Tuesday (February 20, 2024) praised the use of HVO to reduce the authority’s carbon footprint.

Hugh Jones, Wrexham’s lead member for strategic planning and public protection, said: “It is very significant reduction and I think it demonstrates the work that’s been going on across departments over recent years to make a degree of progress.”
Bronington and Hanmer Jeremy Newton questioned whether supplies of HVO were sufficient to meet the council’s needs.
Mr Williams said there were a number of local outlets selling the fuel, which is made from vegetable or used cooking oil, including on the city’s industrial estate.

However, he admitted the council was facing challenges in finding alternative fuel solutions for some of its larger vehicles.
He said: “There are some targets that the Welsh Government has set and there’s still problems about transitioning to alternative sources for transport needs in organisations such as Wrexham Council.
“We do have that challenge and as yet, there isn’t a lot of options for the larger HGV-type vehicles.
“The technology isn’t quite there, although it’s being developed in various different forms, including hydrogen and other fuel sources.
“HVO does have some benefits in terms of its carbon reduction and our piloting work is aimed to explore that a little bit further.
“Hopefully it will be more of a short to medium term solution whilst technologies are developed for the larger vehicles.”

Mr Williams said the use of HVO fuel would now be rolled out to other council vehicles in the near future.

Executive board members approved holding a review of the authority’s vehicle fleet at the end of the discussions, with a view to finding alternative fuel sources.

By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter

(Top pic: Archive shot of a gritter locally, we have no idea if this was veg oil powered!)

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