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
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.