Overview

Save money, reduce harmful emissions and reliance on foreign oil supplies by switching motor vehicles to alternative energy sources

Even the most ambitious transport plans do not envisage cars disappearing while buses, trains and freight vehicles will continue to need some form of propulsion. While there’s debate about how long oil will last for, fuel prices continue to rise and occasional interruptions to supply can cause queues at petrol stations and wider disruption.

It makes sense for your community to consider alternative options, in particular those that can be locally sourced. This is particularly the case for vehicles used for essential services, such as public transport and food distribution, as the payback on investment needed is better on intensively used vehicles.

Petrol and diesel sold in the UK already contains a small proportion of biofuel but this is industrially produced. There are growing concerns about the sustainability of such biofuels, whether in relation to displacing land for growing food or covering the countryside with plantations of monocrops. Recent research suggests such biofuels lead to more limited savings than originally envisaged or even net increases in carbon emissions.

Electric vehicles are increasingly viable as an alternative but the initial cost of a vehicle is currently high and there are issues about range, including opportunities for recharging. Besides petrol and diesel, there are a number of alternative fuels available to power existing motor vehicles. These offer cheaper and cleaner power for little or no sacrifice in power or range. The main options are:

  • compressed natural gas (CNG) is normally methane from natural gas but can also be from biomethane
  • liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a byproduct of the oil industry but offers benefits over conventional petrol and diesel
  • biodiesel can be sourced from used cooking oil as well as being produced industrially
  • biomethane can be produced from food waste, sewage and landfill and is used like CNG

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