New beginnings

John Kendall spoke to Adrian Brabazon, head of BP Fleet Solutions, about how oil companies fit into the EV future


New beginnings

John Kendall spoke to Adrian Brabazon, head of BP Fleet Solutions about how oil companies fit into the EV future

“We’ve introduced fuel and charge cards, which provides the solution for the transition [to EV]”

Major oil companies can either regard the current situation – where the business model and revenue streams that have generated vast wealth for them for over a century are set to disappear – or they can embrace the change and invest in the low carbon future. BP Fleet Solutions, with its core business in the provision of fuel cards, used its presence at the CV Show in May to discuss the future and how the company is re-shaping its business to respond to the challenges.

Fuel cards can be tailored to meet customer needs, but where that has traditionally meant a choice between petrol and diesel, fleets now find themselves considering what they need, having already begun the transition to electric vehicles. At the same time, they are also running vehicles using traditional fuels and are looking to their fuel card providers to ensure that those needs are met from a single card supplier.

“More recently we’ve introduced fuel and charge cards which provides the solution for the transition, so for those fleets that have ICE (internal combustion engine) and electric vehicles, that enables fleets to have a one card solution which they can use during this transition period,” says Brabazon. “Also, the sister part of our organisation, BP Pulse is focused on charging infrastructure into depot, workplace, home charge and also on the road infrastructure – be that on the BP network or to compliment that, we’re developing EV-specific hubs around the UK.”

The first of these hubs was launched on Park Lane in London at the end of 2020, which Brabazon says was the first in the country. “We’ve rolled out a few more in London, Heathrow, Gatwick and we have a wider plan to have a national network of EV hubs to compliment additional charging,” he reveals.

In addition, just before the CV Show, there was an announcement announcing another hub, this time at the exhibition site. One of the largest of its kind, the new unit would offer 32 ultra-fast chargers and 107 slow chargers for the public.

The 32 ultra-fast chargers will offer 300kW DC charging and the remaining chargers will be 7kW AC chargers similar to wallbox home chargers. A new entrance off junction 6 of the M42 will provide access to the site. The 7kW chargers will be located in one of the NEC’s existing car parks for use by NEC customers while they are at the venue. The site is due to open in the autumn this year.

BP Pulse is focused on charging infrastructure into depot, workplace, home charge and also on the road infrastructure

Big charging plans

“In addition to the transition to EV, there’s a lot of changes happening with medium to heavy duty trucks, with alternative fuels and low-carbon fuels. BP is playing a big role in all of those diverse energy mixes including hydrogen, where BP’s investing in Teeside to create a hydrogen hub,” says Brabazon. “We won a tender last year and we’re putting in huge infrastructure for blue and green hydrogen.”

The projects that Brabazon describes are the HyGreen Teesside and H2Teeside projects. Under the plans, HyGreen Teesside will produce 60mWe (megawatts electrical input) of renewable hydrogen by 2025, with the potential to reach 500mWe by 2030 – which, including the “blue” hydrogen (not generated from renewable sources) produced under the H2Teeside project, would be around 30% of the UK’s 2030 target for hydrogen production. A final investment decision on the HyGreen Teesside project is expected next year.

The hard cell

With hydrogen fuel cell developments continuing for light CVs too, the hydrogen developments could also influence the development of fuel cell LCVs as well as trucks. In addition, BP has made investments both in the bio-natural gas supplier Gasrec and HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil) renewable diesel fuel supplier Green Biofuels (GBF).

“For us, a couple of things that we’re doing will bring it together. One is the fuel card integration, our fuel cards will be accepted for the different energy types because that is what a fleet wants – simplicity,” continues Brabazon. “Secondly, from the infrastructure perspective, as well as the infrastructure developments on the electric side, from the low carbon fuels, we have started the journey to create a national network of low carbon hubs as well, which will be multi-fuel.

“The plan is for it to be multi-fuel with biogas and HVO,” he adds. “The plan is for them to be adaptable for when electrification for trucks becomes more widespread, so we can include that and also for hydrogen for trucks as well. So, there’s lots and lots of great stuff going on to help fleets through the transition period.

“Ultimately, our role is from the supply side, to be able to supply the various fuels and then from the infrastructure side to make sure that we provide the infrastructure for fleets to be able service their need for on the road fuelling, whichever need they have.”

For cars and vans, BP is currently predicting that petrol and diesel volume sales could decrease by up to 50 per cent by 2035. “Now we model different scenarios around the pace of change within BP and the 50% is based on current trajectory, taking into account different factors around government or interventions etc,” explains Brabazon. “On an accelerated model, that could reach two-thirds reduction by that time. That has lots of dependencies around government intervention and the adoption from fleets.”

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