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Commercial Group  demonstrated to delegates at the FTA Managing Freight in London conference that the successful introduction of hydrogen-powered vans onto its fleet is a good example of how operators can lead the way in reducing emissions.

“We're an operator of vans across the UK, with a significant number in London, and we believe that the impact of emissions on air quality is very important. As an operator we can be part of the solution, as much as we have been in the past, part of the problem,” said Commercial Group environmental strategist Simon Graham.

Commercial Group co-developed a new biodiesel/hydrogen hybrid van through an Innovate UK scheme launched in 2012, which had now been designed and built for practical operation on the road.

“We got the first vans on the road in 2013 and have now managed to get eight vehicles running on hydrogen power across the south of England, running from a number of depots and that seems to be working very well operationally in comparison with how we envisaged introducing what is quite a cutting edge fuel,” said Graham.

He added that a number of operators, particularly in the retail and food logistics sectors, are taking a leadership role and trialling alternative fuels on their fleets. “There are lots of alternatives out there, but there isn't one solution that will solve everything.”

The business services company has reduced its fleet's carbon footprint by more than 50%, while expanding it by 80%, since 2006.