Online supermarket Ocado has opened its first natural gas refueling station at its Hatfield Customer Fulfilment Centre. Ocado is the first UK retailer to self-fund the purchase of an onsite grid connected station outright. The site launched with 29 trucks powered by blended biomethane, totaling an investment of £3 million. The replacement of the existing diesel vehicles represents 20% of the online retailer’s fleet, an industry-leading figure.
Ocado’s CNG refueling station has been designed and built by Gasrec. The businesses have agreed a 10-year support and maintenance contract, with Ocado also announcing plans to invest in natural gas technology at future sites. The investment in natural gas is part of Ocado’s wider strategy to explore and invest in carbon-friendly alternatives to diesel fuel.
Environmental benefits of switching to natural gas include 99% fewer particulate emissions and 70% less nitrogen oxide than the latest diesel standard. The trucks are on average 50% quieter than diesel vehicles, so are kinder to residential areas. The new vehicles will reduce the Ocado HGV fleet CO2 emissions by 29% annually.
James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer at Gasrec, said: “Ocado reacted immediately to the range of dedicated natural gas vehicles becoming available to HGV fleets and we’ve been able to design, build and commission the onsite refueling infrastructure in time to meet the new trucks entering service. It’s fantastic to be working with a company so focused on improving the sustainability of its fleet – a move firmly backed by Government, which has committed to supporting natural gas vehicles with a duty reduction until 2032.”
Graham Thomas, Fleet Services Manager at Ocado, also commented: “By investing in natural gas-powered vehicles, and in our first onsite refueling station, we’re future-proofing our fleet and our business. Emissions from CNG are cleaner than Euro VI standards which start to take effect with the London Low Emissions Zone from April, and will soon be followed by a further 32 Clean Air Zones.”