Germany registers strong increase in the share of biomethane in CNG fuel
The ‘Industriekreis CNG-Mobilität’, a group of companies and associations composed of representatives of the automotive and energy industries as well as infrastructure operators and providers of renewable fuels like biomethane, reported very positive figures with respect to climate protection. According to recent information from members of this group, the proportion of renewable biomethane in the total amount of CNG fuel in Germany has reached record highs, and the number of CNG refueling stations offering 100% renewable gas as the only fuel has increased almost twofold. It is expected that the proportion of biomethane in CNG fuel will, on average, reach at least 50% by mid-2020.
This indicates that the proportion of biomethane is experiencing continuous growth; average figures in 2018 were only slightly above 20%. The proportion of renewables in public local transport and commercial CNG vehicle fleets also increases drastically all over Germany: The fleets of operators of public bus services in Augsburg, Oldenburg or Dessau, for example, run on 100% bio-CNG, and a growing number of CNG trucks on the road run on the eco-friendly biofuel.
Last year, too, CNG was the undisputed Number One fuel source of vehicle mobility with an immediate positive effect on the climate. In October 2019, the ADAC (German General Automobile Association) published a study by Joanneum Research of Austria that demonstrated that, over their entire life cycle, CNG passenger cars would emit the lowest amount of greenhouse gases compared to all other vehicle drives (including battery-powered vehicles), assuming, on the basis of a conservative estimate, a 15% proportion of biomethane in the CNG mix. This seems logical also in view of the fact that the burning of fossil natural gas produces about 23% less CO2 emissions per energy unit compared to petrol. Using pure biomethane made from residuals reduces CO2 emissions by as much as about 90%.
“In terms of climate protection, an average mix of 50% biomethane made from residuals again considerably increases the advantage of CNG over other fuels”, said Claus Sauter, CEO of VERBIO VereinigteBioenergie AG.
Whether 100%-made from residue or synthetically produced from power-to-gas systems or mixed in any proportion with fossil natural gas – biomethane can be readily used in CNG cars, buses and trucks.
The feedstock material is available in abundance: in Germany alone, more than seven million CNG passenger cars or at least 200,000 CNG trucks could run on 100% of climate-neutral biomethane made from surplus straw, according to Industriekreis member VERBIO. In addition, more biomethane can be produced from other agricultural residue like manure, dung and green waste. Other biomethane providers agree that there is huge potential for this fuel.
Consistent with this view, the target scenarios for 2030 that are described in the documents of the “NationalePlattformMobilität” (NPM) of the Federal Government mention up to three million CNG vehicles. However, ministers so far have failed to come up with concrete proposals on how to reach such numbers. Recent studies consider biomethane (in addition to hydrogen) an important energy carrier for climate-neutral mobility.
The members of the Industriekreis CNG-Mobilität group now call upon policy makers to recognise biomethane as a fast, effective and economical means to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “This, however, requires the appropriate cars to be put on our roads. The instruments for the promotion of climate-friendly solutions that are discussed in the NPM should focus on CNG vehicles and their contribution to climate protection”, commented Dr Dietrich Gerstein of the DVGW (Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfachese.V.).