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United Utilities is making great progress on one of its climate change pledges through a series of green fleet initiatives

CNG truck unloading biosolids

The North West’s water company has committed to ambitious science based emissions reduction targets with a promise that all of its vehicles will use green fuel by 2028.  The company currently has large and varied fleet of vans, HGVs, 4x4s and plant equipment that are mostly powered by traditional fuels.  

In 2020-21 the 2,400 vehicles on the road across the region emitted the equivalent of 16,634 tonnes of carbon dioxide but by changing to electricity and alternative fuels the company expects to reduce this to nearly zero from 2029.

Over the last six years United Utilities has been trialling the use of more environmentally friendly fuel with a number of its vehicles. The company has now deployed 27 electric vehicles at operational sites and has also ordered eight Nissan ENV200’s and four Vauxhall Vivaro-e. These vehicles were chosen due to their size and real world range and the ability to meet company’s requirements. To support with the transition to electric vans charge points are being installed across the businesses various sites, as well as at employees’ homes.

After a successful trial involving its 44 tonne HGV trucks running on compressed natural gas, the company has now placed an order for four Iveco Stralis NP vehicles that will operate from its Bioresource centre in Davyhulme. As the gas is produced from natural sources, rather than fossil fuel it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% and is cleaner burning – resulting in less pollutants. Feedback on the performance and economy of the truck was really positive, with re-fuelling straightforward at the gas stations across the Northwest.

The water company has also completed a trial of HVO (Hydrotreated vegetable oil) which was used in two of its trucks that provide customers with water if there are supply issues in the region.  HVO provides up to a 90% reduction in CO2 emissions as it’s manufactured from waste fats and vegetable oils. The trial was a success with driveability and fuel economy matching conventional diesel power.

United Utilities is now investigating replacing diesel with HVO in other plant equipment including boilers which could further reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.  

The company is also looking to go further still by encouraging employees to swap to electric vehicles.  This would be done through a salary sacrifice scheme that is expected to be ready next year. It is also supporting its suppliers like Sapphire Utility Solutions to reduce the emissions of its fleet as well.

Carl Doyle, Green Fleet Business Lead at United Utilities, said: “As part of our carbon pledges we have committed to running our entire fleet on electricity or alternative fuels by 2028. 

“Whilst it’s an ambitious target with the size of our fleet, by continuing to trial new fuels and technologies and working with partners we’re confident that we will be able to deliver.” 

United Utilities has set out ambitious plans to help ensure it reaches its science based targets before the end of the decade including planting more than 1 million trees and for the North West’s water services to use 100% renewable electricity.   





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