NGVA Europe: natural gas vehicles are a clean solution for mobility
NGO ‘Transport & Environment’ (T&E) has released a new report doubting the proven environmental benefits of natural gas in transport, specifically for air quality this time. It is targeting the inclusion of CNG into the support schemes for accelerating the renewal of the current fleet in Italy. In this regard, associations NGVA Europe and NGV Italy analyze the attacks to natural gas, the clean solution for sustainable mobility that today represents less than 1% of the total car and heavy-duty vehicle fleet in Europe.
One reason of the attacks could be that natural gas in transport, unlike other solutions, is mature, reliable, and a very cost-effective technology, able to answer all mobility and transport needs. Therefore, it attracts various operators – thanks to its ecological and economic standpoint. These benefits are recognized not only in Europe but even more, in the rest/in other parts of the world. The NGV fleet in Europe counts about 1,5 million vehicles while the rest of the world more than 25 million units are circulating.
After the coronavirus pandemic crisis, it is time to question previous habits: we have to reinvent our common vision of a net zero emissions future. Here, we have to look for the best combination of solutions that can support a sustainable, feasible and socially acceptable evolution of our transport system as a whole.
Moreover, a business-based timeline must be guaranteed, considering implementation and penetration of new technological solutions all across Europe. Zero tailpipe emissions technologies are part of the solution, but there are 300 million vehicles in Europe that are (still) fueled with conventional fossil fuel. These vehicles will require a change to alternative and renewable fuels if the immediate decarbonization of transport is the real objective. Limiting the future options to one solution for all transport modes is not enough.
This is because clean solutions based on Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) provide immediate answers to urban pollution and unlock huge carbon reduction potential thanks to renewable fuels.
Even more, T&E also questions the use of biomethane. Also here, it is very difficult to understand the reasoning behind this. Biomethane is mainly produced through sustainable anaerobic processes converting waste and dedicated biomasses into a clean fuel. This fuel is providing a GHG saving between 80% to 95% compared to conventional fuels and, in some cases (e.g. liquid manure), can even lead to negative emissions.
Today, biomethane, as bioCNG and bioLNG, is already widely distributed through existing infrastructure, without any additional costs. With this in mind, existing and future CNG and LNG infrastructure is key. It needs to be preserved, further supported and extended for use of biomethane fueled NGVs all across Europe. Today, the system is already delivering 17% biomethane to the road transport sector; this means that, despite what could be measured at the tailpipe, GHG emissions result with additional 20% less emissions. Globally, compared to conventional fuel, the GHG saving is already equivalent to approximately 40%. This, while using the same technologies and the same distribution infrastructure.
To conclude, the associations expect from a NGOs to be first in place to try and apply a holistic and effective approach to solve the complex equation of reaching a decarbonation transport system. This is what our environment and society is asking for, not only in 2050 – but today. It is time to collaborate, to integrate solutions, to consider the economic conditions across all European Member States to build a solid roadmap where EU industries will continue to express their leadership.
Natural gas, together with biomethane, offers an ecosystem that is a great example of circular economy, liaising the mobility with the renewable energy and agriculture sector. It is a cost-effective solution to quickly start a process, which is today unfortunately still acting in slow motion, shaping our future mobility and transport system.