NGVA Europe Takes Firm Stand on LNG as No-Regret Fuel in EU Parliament Hearing (VIDEO)

NGVA Europe Takes Firm Stand on LNG as No-Regret Fuel in EU Parliament Hearing

On 18 June, NGVA Europe participated in an expert Hearing in the European Parliament, organised by the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN), and presented its view on behalf of the NGV related industry on CNG and LNG infrastructure deployment needs.

Last January the European Commission presented the Clean Power for Transport initiative, including the proposal for a Directive on deployment on alternative fuels infrastructure. Matthias Maedge, Head of the NGVA Europe Brussels Office and panel speaker in the public hearing, pointed out to the MEPs that it is crucial to keep the 2020 deadline for the infrastructure build-up targets foreseen in the proposal for a Directive. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) would lead to the quickest, most dependable and cost-effective way to replace oil in the transport sector and reduce or avoid emissions in terms of CO2 and regulated exhaust pollutants (NOx, PM) in vehicles.

NGVA Europe fully supports the proposal for a Directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, incl. CNG & LNG filling stations (Natural Gas/bio-methane). Huge societal benefits combined with a clear industry commitment show the urgent need for a harmonised investment strategy to develop the single market for NGVs throughout the EU. CNG and LNG in transport is a no-regret option for both the private and the public sector in order to make the shift to a more sustainable transport system. Therefore, the 2020 deadline to meet the targets for Natural Gas refuelling is not ambitious considering the advanced stage of CNG and LNG vehicles and filling stations. As there seems to be some concern regarding the deadline in general, NGVA Europe proposes to decouple the different technologies from each other. All fuels have their role to play, but possibly not all at the same time as the deployment status of the technology and customers’ acceptance is different. Such an approach would not only better reflect technology developments, but could alleviate pressure from the discussion regarding the feasibility and also anticipate financial constraints on the investment side to a certain extent. The proposed Directive foresees CNG stations every 150 km across Europe and LNG stations every 400 km along the TEN-T core network. NGVA Europe calls for more ambitious targets to use the full potential of NGVs, as “they are as clean as electric vehicles on a well to wheel basis, the technology is available and gas in transport should have started yesterday”, Matthias Maedge told the MEPs.

In conclusion, NGVA Europe postulates:

  • Natural Gas (CNG and LNG) represents the quickest and most cost-effective way to reduce oil dependency in transport.
  • CNG and LNG reduce or avoid emissions in terms of CO2 and regulated exhaust pollutants (NOx, PM) significantly.
  • CNG and LNG mean natural gas and bio-methane from renewable or non-biological sources without blending limitations, allowing CO2 emission savings of up to 97% on a well-to-wheel basis.
  • Safety: CNG/LNG is a very safe fuel due to its physical properties (natural gas is lighter than air, ignition temperature is almost two times as high as for petrol, no noxious effects).
  • Investments in NG filling stations are not critical: According to the impact assessment carried out by the European Commission, only 220 million € would be needed for investments in NG infrastructure, compared to e.g. 8 billion € needed for electric recharging.
  • Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) represent a mature and market ready technology (1 million vehicles, more than 3000 filling stations) showing strong commitment by the industry and consumer acceptance already today, keeping the 2020 deadline is crucial and the deployment status of the different technologies has to be taken into account.

Several issues need to be addressed on European level to increase customer awareness and acceptance. Article 7 of the proposed Directive states that Member States shall ensure that relevant, clear and simple information on the compatibility between all fuels on the market and vehicles is available, but NGVA Europe calls to use a more transparent pricing system in order to enable customers to compare fuel prices. As not all fuels are sold in litre, the end-user is simply not aware that CNG is the cheapest fuel (1kg CNG = 1,5 litre petrol). The market of NGVs in Europe is still very small with only 0,5% market share to date. The number of public NG filling stations (ca. 3.000) and vehicles (ca. 1 million) has been developed by the industry alone with no or very limited public support so far. However, the fact that the market has developed to the stage where it is today clearly shows the strong industry commitment and proves that the business case works, unlike for other alternative fuels, which are still in the research or pre-mature market phase. The time for CNG and LNG in transport is now and the technology is customer friendly. Investments will not be lost in the future and the vehicle and refuelling technology is mature, which opens immediate possibilities for the integration of renewables; the economics work (lower fuel prices combined with an increasingly attractive OEM vehicle offer). The bottleneck remains the refuelling infrastructure. The industry would be prepared to further invest, but the pay-back period for the construction of service stations is rather long at the moment due to the lack of turnover generated by insufficient number of vehicles refuelling. A political market trigger is necessary.

The NGV related industry is global leader in this type of technology, but lies behind global trends; the European fleet now only represents some 7% of the global market. The single market idea for NGVs will only develop and investments will eventually pay off (on the vehicle, infrastructure and fuel side) if investment strategies would be aligned and a political mandate is inevitable to achieve this. The CPT proposal for a Directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure could solve this dilemma. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the ´NGVA Europe Position Paper in response to the Public Hearing on “Clean Power for Transport” (CPT) in the Committee on Transport and Tourism, 18 June 2013`.

In a next step, the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) oft he European Parliment will discuss the report of the Rapporteur MEP Carlo Fidanza in September. After giving the chance of feedback to the Committee members and to table amendments, the report will be voted in TRAN towards end of the year and later in the plenary of the European Parlimanet at the beginning of 2014. Once leaving the European Parliament, the Member States will have to vote on the proposed Directive. A simple majority is needed.

Source: NGVA Europe, July 9, 2013

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