For the poms it must be a long way, to use gas power end-to-end in the UK, from the top of Scotland to the foot of England – all on one tank. The 874-mile stretch equates to 1,407km – not a bad distance to make on one tank of fuel.
What’s in the tank? Liquefied natural gas, something Australia has in the billions of litres and which is keeping the north-west Australian economy going with the massive LNG exporting industry going full bore.
Unfortunately, the idea of powering trucks with LNG has never fired up the imagination of the Australian trucking industry. There have been a few gallant pioneers working to introduce the concept more widely, but LNG remains a niche product, in a very small niche.
Mitchells (now part of Toll) in Western Australia used a number of LNG powered trucks on high-mileage 24-hour-a-day tanker transport and could show considerable cost savings.
Murray Goulburn has a been running a number of LNG powered trucks and retains refuelling facilities on some of their sites.
In Tasmania, a group of transport companies and an LNG supplier got together to try and introduce the fuel onto the island with some success. A number of fleets use the shared refuelling facilities in Tasmania.
For one reason or another, LNG has never received the kickstart required to get in onto the agenda for many in trucking. There needs to be some momentum stimulated before the natural advantages of the fuel will be taken on board and more widely accepted. LNG has never been given a helping hand to set it on its way.
The Alternative Fuels subsidy was disbanded just at the point where the fuel came onto the market. The possibility of a carbon tax, or some form of carbon trading scheme, gave the idea a boost at one point. However, the permanent churn of Aussie politics saw the advantages of a lower-carbon fuel disappear along with, a carbon scheme and the chances of any form of government subsidy.
The suppliers of LNG powered vehicles didn’t help either. The systems sold were either relatively inefficient or prohibitively expensive at the time and many operators eventually walked away from them.
This latest system from Iveco seems to be gaining some traction in Europe, where they do have a carbon trading scheme and the fuel does have some fiscal advantages.
Any chance of this technology being launched in Australia any time soon? Not much!