Cavan haulier’s first: ‘Zero carbon’ lorry delivery to Europe

Virginia firm urges State to invest in network of gas stations to help switch from diesel

A Co Cavan company has become the first haulier to complete a "zero carbon" delivery to Europe using a lorry fuelled by renewable gas.

Virginia International Logistics transported a consignment of processed beef last weekend from Liffey Meats in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, to Caen in northern France, a return trip of 1,121km.

The lorry was fuelled by bio-compressed natural gas purchased from biomethane producers in Europe and delivered to the company through Gas Network Ireland’s network. It was fuelled at the company’s compressed natural gas (CNG) station in its Dublin yard and again at a station in France.

The commercial transport fleet makes up just 3 per cent of vehicles, but is responsible for about a fifth of the State’s carbon emissions from transport. Switching to CNG can reduce a lorry’s emissions by up to 22 per cent, while using bio CNG in the same vehicle eliminates carbon emissions.


"It is totally green transport. People are looking to turn their supply chains green, and that is why we are changing our fleet, to save the carbon footprint," said Ray Cole, a co-owner and transport director at the logistics firm.

The company has eight CNG-fuelled trucks in a fleet of 130 lorries, and has another 20 on order, investing €3 million so far with plans to invest a further €3 million to €5 million.

Mr Cole said the Government needed to help the industry invest in this alternative fuel network by creating a network of CNG stations across the country, which cost up to €1 million each.

He estimates that 15 stations in key locations around the State could create a viable network to allow haulage companies to switch to renewable gas vehicles.


"The Government needs to get the infrastructure in quicker. Gas Networks Ireland are putting stations into strategic areas around Ireland, and they need help from the Government to push that on and work with the haulier to help move over from diesel to gas."

Mr Cole said companies could, with some help, establish “anaerobic digestion” (AD) plants that could allow hauliers to convert slurry, grass and food waste into renewable gas for use in fleets of trucks.

The Government wants to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources from 30 per cent to 70 per cent, and to have one million electric vehicles on Irish roads by 2030.

Mr Cole said he was "very concerned" about the fallout from a no-deal Brexit, including delays at Dublin Port for the 2,500 trucks that pass on average through the State's busiest port every day.

“I don’t mind if the UK go [out of the EU] but they need to go with a deal of some sort. If they crash out it is going to be chaos.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times