Today is UK Clean Air Day. A good opportunity to pause and think about the impact we’re having on our environment and the air that we breathe.
Breathing dirty air is linked to a whole host of health problems, including asthma, heart disease, strokes, lung disease and dementia. Children and older people are the most vulnerable as are those with fewest choices about the quality of the air they breathe. Recent estimates put the number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution at approximately 36,000 people per year.
At Cadent we have the opportunity to make a significant difference and I’m proud that we’re addressing this issue head-on - both in the small decisions we make and by using our large network to give people access to cleaner alternatives.
Let’s start close to home with our vehicles. Our field operations need access to power to do our work for our customers and we normally get this power by running van engines while stationary to power electrical generators and air compressors. This is noisy, and releases air pollution directly at the point of work. So, in partnership with Clayton Power UK and Bri-Stor systems Ltd, we’ve developed an award winning solution using state-of-the-art lithium battery power technology to provide clean, quiet power at the point of use. We are the first gas distribution network to have adopted this technology at scale and you can read more about this technology here
It’s not just in our own fleet that we can make a difference. Two-fifths of roadside nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions - harmful vehicle exhaust gases linked to a range of health problems - come from HGVs. HGVs are not well suited to the battery technologies which work so well in electric cars, but are a good fit for cleaner Natural Gas and clean Hydrogen fuel solutions. That is why we at Cadent are supporting those who want to use natural gas or Hydrogen as the fuel of choice for HGVs and buses to clean up our air as well as tackling the difficult issue of decarbonising transport.
We are facilitating the growth of compressed natural gas filling stations, fed directly from our underground gas pipeline network. In 2016, our partnership with CNG Fuels created the first commercial high pressure compressed natural gas refuelling station at Leyland in Lancashire. The station delivers biomethane gas made from sources such as food waste, crop residues and sewage, to HGV fleets for Waitrose, John Lewis and others.
We now have seven fuel stations connected directly to our high pressure gas network. The latest facility opened in January with GasRec in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, supporting Ocado’s growing fleet of twenty nine gas powered HGVs, with more stations planned to serve Nottingham’s buses, HGVs near spaghetti junction and others in the pipeline.
Looking to the future, we are exploring how hydrogen can be used as a vehicle fuel to move from cleaner gas, to clean hydrogen. When hydrogen is used in a fuel cell to power a vehicle it emits just oxygen and water - a double benefit addressing the air quality challenge and eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from the vehicle. We know that grid-supplied hydrogen is the most cost-effective way of supplying hydrogen transport fuel at the required volume – up to 70 per cent cheaper than other possible means. Our recently published HyMotion report has the details and also provides compelling support for the use of a range of options to decarbonise transport.
I am proud of the initiatives Cadent are spearheading to improve the environment of the communities we serve. As an innovative company, we will continue to embrace new technologies and provide leadership to provide the services our customers demand and to do so responsibly.