NGVA Europe news

Brussels, 19 May 2016, changing to natural gas vehicles today makes it possible to reach the 2030 target of 30 percent 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 reasons.

The average CO2 emissions for Europe’s car fleet reduced from 162 grams per kilometre in 2005 to 127 grams in 2013, a reduction of 22 percent (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 centres, decarbonisation will depend strongly on alternative fuels, such as natural gas. CNG cars already comply with the 2020 average CO2 target of 95 grams per kilometre. 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 percent 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 decarbonisation should therefore recognise CNG and LNG vehicles as crucial tool to achieve Europe’s GHG reduction and sustainability goals for the transport sector.

Some facts about natural gas vehicles:

  • Natural gas contains less carbon than traditional hydrocarbon fuels and therefore emits much less CO2 as a vehicle fuel: 25% on average, opening up the road to carbon neutral mobility when blended with renewable methane (from anaerobic digestion of waste or electrolysis of excise electricity). No technical blend limitations exit.
  • Natural gas is the only commercial fuel alternative to diesel achieving lower CO2 emissions.
  • Combustion of natural gas reduces emissions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by over 90% compared to the very strict emission standards for new heavy duty (Euro VI) and light duty (Euro 6) vehicles, therefore making it an ideal “urban fuel” to clean the air.
  • Natural gas engines emit much lower levels of other harmful and carcinogenic pollutants like non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC), including aromatics as benzene.
  • Natural gas engines are almost 50% quieter than those powered by diesel fuel.
  • The full potential of natural gas engines has yet to be deployed. Optimised natural gas engines (using direct injection and higher compression ratios) will become as energy efficient as diesel engines, with an even stronger CO2 saving potential as a result.
  • Natural gas cars have lower emissions than the 95 g/km CO2 fleet average target by 2020 and offer the most cost-efficient CO2-mitigation option (€/t CO2) compared with other solutions: The break-even-mileage (km/year) for CNG vehicles is already reached at 13,000 km versus 47,000 km for plug-in hybrids or more than 100,000 km for electric vehicles (University of Cologne, 2014).
  • Dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicle technology is very mature and simple (using a 3-way-catalyst) and does not require costly additional chemical treatment (with the use of heavy systems), to meet the European and international emission limits, also under Real Driving (RDE) conditions.
  • In the future, further development may also include hybridisation of natural gas engines.

2030 Roadmap: CO2 reduction related to market share of NGVs

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About NGVA Europe:

NGVA Europe is the European stakeholder that promotes the use of natural gas and renewable methane as a fuel mainly in vehicles and ships.

It serves as a platform for the industry involved in the production and distribution of vehicles and natural gas. It defends their interests to European decision makers, to create accurate standards, fair regulations and equal market conditions. NGVA Europe creates networks with interested stakeholders to reach consensus on positions and actions. It also collects, records and communicates reliable facts and significant developments in the natural gas vehicle market.

It was founded in 2008 and has more than 140 members from 40 countries.

To meet increasing demand for natural gas as a fuel France will need 250 CNG and LNG fillings by 2020, a proposal by the French NGV industry for the development of a natural gas infrastructure shows. Under the right conditions 150 of these stations could be privately funded, for the remaining stations some form of government aid will be indispensible. France has 43 natural gas filling stations today.

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Source: AFGNV-CNG and LNG public stations network by end of 2025
The proposal, written by the French natural gas vehicle association (AFGNV), outlines in detail the needs and possibilities to establish natural gas and biomethane as an alternative to traditional fuels in transport, in order to reduce dependency on oil and improve air quality in cities. The proposal is meant to support French authorities in drafting a plan to establish an infrastructure for natural gas as a fuel, as mandated by the EU Directive Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (DAFI). The national plans are to be submitted to the European Commission by November of this year.

The French NGV industry notes an increased interest in France to use natural gas as alternative to traditional fuels, in particular in freight transport, for which natural gas is the only economically viable alternative to diesel. Increasingly large cities in France are eyeing natural gas as an option to reduce air pollution, in particular the presently high emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter from diesel engines. Natural gas and biomethane contain virtually no particulate matter and have low emissions of NOx. Natural gas could form a substantial part of the fuel mix in France, the industry writes.

To meet future demand for natural gas and biomethane as a fuel it is essential, the association writes, to have a strategic network of 150 NGV refuelling points by 2020. The investment required is estimated at 150 million euros, which for the most part could be financed by the private sector on the condition that the current difference in taxation of natural gas and diesel in France remains unchanged until at least 2025, that support for the purchase of the presently higher priced natural gas vehicles is maintained and that incentives for the development of biomethane are reinforced.

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Source: GRTGaz / NGV public stations in Europe by end of 2015
These privately funded stations will inevitably be close to the business community they intend to serve, the association notes. In order to accommodate local authorities determined on reducing air pollution, some 100 filling stations should be established at points where ‘market-specific’ stations do not cover demand. The funding of these ‘territorial’ stations would have to be partly supported by the public sector to involve private investors, at local or national level, either through direct investment, or through other subsidies guaranteeing a minimum level of return. In the proposal of the French NGV association the investment in such a network of ‘territorial’ stations would amount to around 25 million euros. The total number of 250 stations would enable France to meet the European requirement in the DAFI to develop an infrastructure of natural gas stations.

The proposal makes clear that France’s gas industry is ready for the deployment of the stations, stating that with 40.000 kilometers of high pressure pipelines and 200.000 kilometers of distribution pipelines covering the whole of the country, France has ample assets to provide a solid base for the development of gas-powered mobility.


Consumption of compressed natural gas (CNG) climbed to a record 43.59 million m3 in the Czech Republic last year, with growth increasing 10 percent compared to 2014. Support provided by the Czech Ministry of the Environment for the procurement of CNG buses in three Czech regions contributed substantially to the increase.

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Czech Republic currently counts with 110 CNG stations
An additional 4,000 CNG vehicles appeared on Czech roads in 2015, the largest ever year-on-year increase. Some 2,750 new CNG passenger cars were registered, mostly of the indigenous Skoda brand which features several CNG models. The Czech Republic counts more than 13,000 CNG vehicles at present, of which at least 880 are municipal transport buses in some 45 towns and cities. Every fourth new bus registered in the Czech Republic in 2015 was a CNG bus. Many large companies are changing to CNG. Česká pošta’s vehicle fleet alone currently includes 1,000 CNG vehicles and companies such as DB Schenker, Kofola and others also use CNG vehicles.

The country has approximately 110 public CNG refuelling stations (14 of them in Prague) and CNG dispensers have been installed at Benzina, Shell, TOTAL, TEXACO, MOL (formerly AGIP and Lukoil), EuroOil, CARoil, KAPRoil, KONTAKT and other fuel stations. A new refuelling point in the country is added almost every week. Privately held companies (municipal transport companies, manufacturing companies and others) also have their own refuelling stations, while small businesses and family house owners have small home units to fill their vehicles.

Bonett Gas Investment was the country’s biggest CNG seller in 2015 (6.4 million m3); for the first time ever, it overtook the hitherto biggest seller, RWE Energo (5.1 million m3). For 2015, sales by the six companies with the largest number of CNG stations accounted for almost 50% of CNG sales in the Czech Republic, almost 20.8 million m3 CNG. Over the past ten years the country’s CNG consumption has increased more than 12 times (3.584 million m3 in 2006).

“We are seeing profound and positive development in natural gas use in transport in the Czech Republic”, says Jiří Šimek, CGA Board Vice-Chairman. “CNG consumption is now rising rapidly every year. In 2014, CNG consumption rose by 36% while the latest year-on-year growth was as much as 46%. CNG has no competitor among the other alternative fuels. We are convinced that in three to five years, once the Czech Republic has 200 to 300 CNG stations and already a few LNG stations, the use of natural gas as an economical and primarily the greenest fuel for transport will significantly accelerate even more.”

Under the Clean Mobility National Action Plan the number of CNG vehicles may climb to 300,000.

bluecorridorTruck fleet operators are increasingly inclined to adopt LNG as a fuel, despite the low oil prices, a workshop on the LNG Blue Corridors project in Paris last month showed.

The LNG Blue Corridors Project is the first LNG project supported by the European Commission (within the 7th framework). It has now reached the middle of its duration period of 5 years, 2013 - 2018. The results so far are more than encouraging.

At end of March 2016, 12 LNG stations out of the planned 14 are in operation, or will be soon. They make up about 18% of the present European LNG infrastructure. A station in Germany is expected to join the project relatively soon. The location is not yet known. Sales at some of the stations are very close to the target rate. One of the stations sells in excess of 90 ton per month.

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Logistic company Mattheeuws Eric Transport in Veurne
Thirty truck fleets have joined and as a result, 120 LNG trucks are currently active and monitored in the project, well in excess of the 100 trucks aimed at. Up to 150 trucks are expected by the end of the project. At present the engines used are 75% of type Euro VI and 25% of type Euro V.

The trucks in the project have run so far a total of 10 million kilometers. About 3.000 tons of LNG have been consumed. The fuel was dispensed in about 20.000 fillings, each filling amounts to an average of 100 kg of LNG.

The Project organised a fleet workshop in Paris on the 16th of March, just after its yearly General Assembly. The attendance far exceeded the more optimistic expectations, showing that truck fleet operators are, and pronounce themselves, more and more interested in LNG as a fuel, despite the low oil prices which tend to reduce the economic advantage of CNG and LNG. Many of the fleet operators attending the workshop reported their strong interest for LNG, also because of the environmental advantages provided by LNG trucks.

Some truck operator reported very good results in terms of specific fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Ninatrans from Belgium showed that CO2 emissions of LNG trucks can be 14% lower than the CO2 emissions from a diesel truck.

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LC3 trucks running on LNG
Attending partners in the project agreed that some more effort is expected from the side on the NGV industry. Vehicle OEM laboratories should work harder to put more Euro VI LNG trucks on the market; and more powerful LNG trucks should be designed and manufactured, as the ideal target is at 400- 450 hp for long haul trucks having to cross mountain passes on their routes across Europe, as well as across some of the European countries. Gas industry and network operators should put in place more LNG and L-CNG stations. The gas industry, associations and research organisms should do more research to provide more extensive and reliable figures about tWTW consumption and emission comparison between fuels.

“We are facing an energy transition, maybe I should say a revolution”, says Jean-Marc Leroy, president of Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), the European association for distributors of natural gas, a function he holds since November last year. Leroy was named managing director of the Gas Chain Métier at ENGIE in January this year. He started his career in Electricité de France, joined Gaz de France in 1994 and held several key positions there. NGVA Europe asked him to shed light on the future of natural gas in general and for road transport in particular.

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Jean-Marc Leroy, President of GIE
“We had an important agreement in Paris recently on reducing CO2, the world is being changed in depth”, says Leroy. “So where are we going after the Paris agreement? I think we will be going to more decentralised solutions in fighting climate change and natural gas is key in winning the battle. Why? Two reasons. One is changing power plants that are now being fuelled by coal, to natural gas. Worldwide that means a reduction in CO2 emissions of 60 percent in power sector! For Europe this would mean even as much as 20 percent less CO2 in the air.”

“Gas mobility is part of the solution also, not only because of the reductions in CO2 that can be achieved, but also because of the improved air quality with natural gas as a fuel. Megacities can benefit vastly from the virtual lack of particulate matter in natural gas and of the much lower emissions of NOx. For shipping natural gas is the fuel of choice because it is free of sulphur.”

“The second reason natural gas is key is that the gas industry is very innovative. Natural gas can also be produced locally, through biogas and power to gas installations, where surplus electricity can produce synthetic natural gas. In France for instance, in 2050 we expect green gas to account for over 50 % of the gas injected into the distribution network.”

“Biogas can give many solutions to the problems we face today in reducing CO2. It is also a good solution to recycle waste. As far as the use of crops and land-use to produce biogas is concerned: it is clear that we first need to feed to population. But we also have to provide them with energy. Gas will be part of the solution to provide everybody the energy they need, also in mobility.”

“Europe is not on the forefront of gas mobility, it is even rather late. Other continents have shifted to natural gas in transport much earlier. Europe as so far not succeeded in answering the chicken and egg question: do we start with an infrastructure for natural gas or with the vehicles? But things are changing. The EU Commission is supportive of natural gas, the DAFI (Directive for Alternative Fuel Infrastructures) has been approved establishing an infrastructure for natural gas as a fuel. There is the Blue Corridor Project subsidised by the EU to demonstrate that natural gas can be a viable alternative to diesel in trucks, all very important. The infrastructure to distribute natural gas across Europe already exists. Just the link to the filling stations necessary to drive your car need to be established. The DAFI will provide for that.”

“Europe is innovating, there are many interesting projects. It will find the way and natural gas will be key. It is available, cheap and abundant. There are new sources found every day all over the world. Important is also that natural gas can be stored. Also on the long term. This allows for example to face a cold winter. Liquefied Natural Gas therefore, or LNG, gives Europe flexibility, also on where natural gas can be obtained.”

“With regard to Europe’s wish to be self-sufficient in energy I can only question if self-sufficiency can be an objective in itself. The gas industry would like to put emphasis on competitiveness. That is most important, for example to safeguard the more than 300.000 jobs the gas industry offers in Europe today. The focus should be on the market, not on politics, and on diversification of the energy supply. Natural gas can play a major role there.”