Brussels, 25th January 2011

Commission Release  

Alternative fuels have the potential to gradually replace fossil energy sources and make transport sustainable by 2050, according to a report presented to the European Commission today by the stakeholder expert group on future transport fuels. The EU will need an oil-free and largely CO2-free energy supply for transport by 2050 due to the need to reduce its impact on the environment and concerns about the security of energy supply. The expert group has for the first time developed a comprehensive approach covering the whole transport sector. Expected demand from all transport modes could be met through a combination of electricity (batteries or hydrogen/fuel cells) and biofuels as main options, synthetic fuels (increasingly from renewable resources) as a bridging option, methane (natural gas and biomethane) as complementary fuel, and LPG as supplement. 

Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, said: "If we are to achieve a truly sustainable transport, then we will have to consider alternative fuels. For this we need to take into account the needs of all transport modes."

The Commission is currently revising existing policies and today's report will feed into the "initiative on clean transport systems", to be launched later this year. The initiative intends to develop a consistent long-term strategy for fully meeting the energy demands of the transport sector from alternative and sustainable sources by 2050. 

According to the report, alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonise transport, by gradually substituting fossil energy sources. Technical and economic viability, efficient use of primary energy sources and market acceptance, however, will be decisive for a competitive acquisition of market share by the different fuels and vehicle technologies. 

There is no single candidate for fuel substitution. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels which can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources. There is broad agreement that all sustainable fuels will be needed to fully meet the expected demand. 

Different modes of transport require different options of alternative fuels. Fuels with higher energy density are more suited to longer-distance operations, such as road freight transport, maritime transport, and aviation. Compatibility of new fuels with current technologies and infrastructure, or the need for disruptive system changes should be taken into account as important factors, determining in particular the economics of the different options. 

Further information:  

Report of the European expert group on future transport fuels:  

See also: MEMO/11/41  

Source: DG MOVE  


Comments NGVA Europe:Sim_Kallas

NGVA Europe was the only stakeholder for Bio Natural Gas vehicles invited to the Expert Group of Future Transport Fuels, to which some 50 organisations were contributing. Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said: "The scope of your work is unique. I'm impressed of the depth of the report." Deputy head of clean transport fuels at DG MOVE and Chairman of the Expert Group, Franz Soeldner, emphasised througout the sequence of work: "We are looking for alternative fuels, CO2 reduction is a boundary condition."
                                                                                                                                      Commissioner Siim Kallas

NGVA Europe is now pround to find nearly all of our contributions in the final report. The most important NGVA Europe contributions that have retained in the report include:

  • Methane can be used in established combustion engines. Natural gas/bio-methane vehicles offer today a well developed technology, with performances fully equivalent to petrol or diesel units and with very clean exhaust emissions. Methane can also be used in diesel/gas mix compression ignition engines. Advances in technology allow present natural gas engines with minor modifications to reach EURO 6/VI emission level values.
  • Methane could be also used in the form of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for fuelling combustion engines in boats and ships and heavy duty road transport vehicles, up to now mainly through dual fuel systems (engines burning together diesel and methane). Many OEMs are working on LNG, testing and improving different vehicle approaches, in both dual fuel and dedicated gas engines.
  • EU-wide area covering fuel infrastructure, with refuelling stations along all major highways and also in urban areas, would be crucial for a broad market uptake of methane fuelled vehicles.
  • Wider use of methane in ships requires building up the necessary re-fuelling infrastructure in ports.
  • In remote areas lacking access to the gas grid, LNG could be supplied via trucks to filling stations able to supply both LNG and CNG.
  • A methane vehicle presently offers several environmental and technological benefits, compared to a gasoline or a diesel vehicle.
  • A 5% market share for CNG/LNG vehicles could be possible by 2020, with some 15 million vehicles. A higher market share could be reached towards 2030 and beyond. (...) In 2050, these vehicles could still take an important share.
  • A market share of 20 % of natural gas in transport fuels would allow a 5 % reduction of the CO2 emissions from all European vehicles. Assuming that 20 % of the gas used would be made up of bio-methane, the CO2 reduction would increase to 7 %.

                                                    Expert Group Chariman, Franz Soeldner, and EU Affairs 
                                                    Manager, Matthias Maedge, holding the report in hands

Strategy 2050

  1. Methane, from fossil natural gas and biomass derived bio-methane, can serve as an additional option in the short, medium and long term. Bio-methane is particularly attractive as this path provides the highest energy yield per agricultural area used. Methane gas vehicle technology is mature for the broad market, and the existing dense natural gas distribution network in Europe could supply rapidly expanding natural gas filling stations.
  2. Liquefied methane gas (liquefied natural gas LNG and liquefied biogas LBG) could substitute oil for long-distance transport. Strategic freight transport corridors should therefore be equipped with LNG/LBG filling stations. LNG/LBG supply infrastructure should also be built up for ships.
  3. Build-up of an EU-wide area covering methane gas re-fuelling infrastructure should be considered, to ensure free circulation of methane-powered vehicles in Europe.
  4. Harmonised standards for biomethane injection into the gas grid should be developed.
  5. NG/biomethane should be promoted as one of the main fuels in heavy urban transport.


  1. Methane should be promoted as one of the main alternative fuels for Heavy Duty Vehicles (including buses) in urban transport.
  2. European Blue Corridors should be investigated for the build-up of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) infrastructure to support the use of liquefied methane gas in medium and long distance freight transport.
  3. Pilot projects for heavy duty vehicles running on methane gas, and projects on synthetic fuels for long distance passenger and freight transport, should be supported.


Source: Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels

NGVA Europe... for sustainable mobility