Thursday 24 October 2019

Calor urges State to back green fuel push for hauliers

Duncan Osborne, CEO Calor Ireland
Duncan Osborne, CEO Calor Ireland

David Chance

Calor Ireland is ready to invest in a network of liquefied natural gas (LNG) filling stations to fuel trucks as part of a green energy push, and has urged the Government to back the process with funds.

The new head of Calor Ireland Duncan Osborne made the bid ahead of the Budget and as the State grapples with large-scale emissions that means Ireland faces fines for its failure to implement cuts to emissions. The State is ranked third in terms of CO2 per capita generated in the EU.

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"Calor Ireland is ready to invest in the development of LNG filling stations," Mr Osborne said. "We want to see supports for hauliers to invest in lower-carbon fleet. The Government needs to make it easier for companies to make the correct choice."

The transport sector accounted for almost a fifth of the State's CO2 emissions in 2017, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

There are currently 4,000 LNG trucks in the EU and that number is set to grow to 30,000 by 2023 and 400,000 by 2030, according to energy research company Plats.

Calor estimates that despite accounting for just 2-3pc of Ireland's fleet, the heavy duty vehicle sector contributes about 20pc of transport emissions. Shifting from diesel to LNG for transport could cut carbon emissions by 20pc.

Reluctant: Minister Paschal Donohoe has played down the likelihood of a €10 carbon tax hike in the next Budget. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Reluctant: Minister Paschal Donohoe has played down the likelihood of a €10 carbon tax hike in the next Budget. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

With electricity not a viable option for the trucking sector, due to range and battery size, gas-powered vehicles are seen as the best way to decarbonise this sector, Calor said.

Germany made €10m available for the funding programme for LNG trucks that will run until the end of 2020.

The cost differential between a diesel truck and a more expensive LNG truck is in the region of €10,000-€15,000.

Calor currently has 150 LNG stations and pitpoints in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France and is rolling out infrastructure in the UK.

It appears unlikely that Calor will get its wish in the October Budget, as Brexit has forced Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to conserve his funds so as to have sufficient reserves to offset a hard Brexit.

The Government is also going slow on carbon taxes for fear, political analysts say, of stoking the ire of rural voters ahead of polls that are widely expected next year.

Mr Donohoe has played down the likelihood a €10 hike to carbon tax in the upcoming Budget. Despite being advised by officials that he should start to increase the tax on fossils fuels, he appears reluctant to move too quickly.

Last year, he failed to add anything to the current rate of €20 per tonne of CO2, following a backlash from rural TDs within his own party.

The State faces large fines for its failure to meet its carbon emissions reduction targets for 2020 and 2030.

It has signed up for a legally binding plan to reduce emissions by 30pc in the transport, agriculture, light industry and the built environment sectors of the economy.

Irish Independent

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