The huge opportunity of natural gas vehicles to decarbonize transport

The huge opportunity of natural gas vehicles to decarbonize transport

Changing to natural gas vehicles today makes it possible to reach the 2030 target of 30% greenhouse gas

emissions reduction coming from road transport ahead of time. The target can only be reached with a

higher share of alternative fuels, including natural gas, as diesel will become less attractive for air quality


The average CO2 emissions for Europe’s car fleet reduced from 162 grams per kilometer in 2005 to 127

grams in 2013, a reduction of 22% (ICCT, 2014). This reduction has been the result of improved fuel

efficiency, but mainly happened because of a large shift in the use of petrol to diesel. As diesel will

become less attractive in the coming years, through stricter rules on air pollution and cities starting to

ban diesel vehicles from city centers, decarbonization will depend strongly on alternative fuels, such as

natural gas.

CNG cars already comply with the 2020 average CO2 target of 95 grams per kilometer. For trucks, the EU

is working on ways to measure CO2 emissions and aims at introducing a fuel efficiency standard for

heavy-duty vehicles, which are entirely based on diesel engines. Natural gas is the only viable alternative

to diesel used in long-distance trucks, as also shown by the LNG Blue Corridors Project and many fleet

operators willing to switch to natural gas. “The huge potential and benefits of natural gas engines are

not sufficiently rewarded”, said Matthias Maedge, Secretary General of NGVA Europe.

In a 2030 scenario, industry estimates that NGVs will emit 30% less CO2 compared to diesel, with even

higher reduction versus petrol. On top of that, significant reductions will be achieved with increased

blending of natural gas with renewable methane, including biomethane and Synthetic Natural Gas

(SNG). Substantial efficiency gains in natural gas engines can still be achieved by 2030, in the scope of at

least 10 to 15%, closing the efficiency gap to diesel engines.

The shift to cleaner and more sustainable mobility will only work when using a mix of alternative fuels.

Natural gas can be a key contributor, but also hydrogen, electricity and liquid biofuels are needed.

However, the discussion must be based on a functioning market and should also take into account the

costs of the fuel, vehicles and components to achieve our goals in a cost-efficient way. A realistic

analysis shows that we are still relatively far away from that. In the end, all solutions must play a role

wherever it makes sense, the upcoming strategy from the Commission on decarbonization should

therefore recognise CNG and LNG vehicles as a crucial tool to achieve Europe’s GHG reduction and

sustainability goals for the transport sector.


Share Button