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TR1Decarbonising SBC's Fleet and Fuel


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SBC is aiming to reduce and eliminate carbon emissions from their fleet and non-road machinery through a reduction in diesel reliance.


As part of Stevenage’s target to be net zero by 2030, the Council has set a target to decarbonise their fleet before 2030.

The fleet accounted for approximately 23% of the Council's emissions in their 2018 baseline data.

Decarbonising SBC's transport-related emissions includes reducing carbon emissions across its own fleet, the grey fleet used for operational purposes, and the modes of commuting of its workforce, as shown below.

Decarbonisation of SBC's fuel and fleet context

Actions to decarbonise transport could be classified into the main groups shown below.

Classification of actions to decarbonise fuel and fleet

Actions consisting of avoiding unnecessary journeys or shifting to active travel or public transport are always under analysis by the Council, as they usually produce cost savings and positive effects in terms of congestion, local pollution and carbon emissions.

Another alternative to decarbonise SBC's fleet is to change the fuel utilised with minor or null adaptations (in vehicles or infrastructure) needed.

Currently, SBC operates a mixed fleet of more than 100 vehicles consisting of large goods vehicles, vans, tractors, mowers, road sweepers, plant, and small utility vehicles.

Almost the entire fleet currently runs on white diesel fuel. However, things have started to change with three new electric vans in the fleet since 2023.

Heavy-duty vehicles account for about 63.4% of the total SBC fleet emissions, with refuse freighters as particularly dominant (due to high mileage and high fuel consumption). According to the UK Government, refuse collection vehicles (RCVs) often generate a considerable proportion of local authority’s fleet emissions, so this is a shared challenge across the country.

SBC Fleet - Total annual CO2e emissions per type of vehicle (2023)

Cars and small vans, in turn, are responsible for nearly 22.3% of fleet-related SBC emissions, with minivans and panel vans the most relevant.

As part of its Climate Change Strategy, the Council has developed a pathway to decarbonise its fleet. This pathway includes the switch from diesel to an ultra-low carbon biofuel, as soon as possible, and using Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) as the preferred replacement option for cars and small vans (from 2025 onwards) and light-duty (from 2027 onwards), and Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) of different available and cost-efficient technologies (such as BEVs or Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles) for Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) from 2027.

The Council has also installed solar panels on the roofs of 7 of their refuse trucks. The solar panels power the onboard electrical systems, reducing the need for the alternator to be used which in turn, can save up to 1,100 litres of diesel per lorry per year.

Solar Panels on SBC Refuse Collection Lorries


What are we doing?

  • Todo01/10/2024

    Switching to Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to run our fleet and machinery

    Subject to finding additional funding and approval, the entire diesel fleet of road going and non-road going vehicles and machinery will switch to HVO, reducing carbon emissions by up to 90%.

    HVO, also known as HVO Biodiesel, is a synthetic, second-generation paraffinic fuel, a biofuel produced from vegetable oil waste. Due to its production process, HVO has a longer shelf life than regular biodiesel.

    HVO is produced to conform to EN15940 & ASTM D975 standards for paraffinic & diesel fuels, and the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) 2009/30/EC Annex 2. It can be used as a direct, drop-in replacement for white diesel. It can be stored in the same fuel tank and be used in the same way as diesel, without modifications.

    The business case for this switch to HVO has been approved for the next financial year in the Council session on February 21, 2024.

What has been done?

  • Done01/31/2024

    Incorporating the first electric vans to our fleet

    SBC has purchased 3 electric vans since August 2023.

  • Done10/23/2023

    Install solar roofing on waste collection lorries

    Our 7 refuse vehicles now have solar panels on their roofs. The solar panels are the Trailar Refuse 480W model. These are designed to supply power to the onboard electrical systems which means that the alternator is not required as much. Not using the alternator saves 10-15 brake HP from the engine which in turn saves fuel. It is estimated that over the course of a year each lorries solar panels will save up to 1,100 litres of diesel fuel, reducing CO2 emissions and saving money.

Summary and contacts


01/06/2023 →

Portfolio Holder

Strategic Themes

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Information updated 02/26/2024