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12 November 2018

Renewable gas in transport and methane emissions

Estimations about the European Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) market evolution show a potential in reaching a fleet of 13 million units in 2030, which means growth by factor 10 compared to today's situation. In parallel, the production of renewable gas will increase, too: in 2030 a conservative estimation shows a production potential close to 45 bcm (we are at approximately 2 bcm today). This will theoretically be enough to overcome the entire fuel demand of the 13 million units fleet (around 30 bcm).

Nevertheless, NGVA Europe and EBA estimate that in 2030 the average value of renewable gas used in the transport sector in Europe will be around 30%. Main sources for renewable gas production will be from anaerobic digestion, such as municipal waste and liquid manure. Gasification and Power-to-Gas will be playing a more significant role for the production of renewable gases from 2025 on.

Decarbonisation thanks to renewable gas

This renewable gas production will translate into a very concrete contribution to decarbonisation: 30% renewable gas corresponds to a GHG emissions reduction of more than 45% compared to conventional fuels on a Well-to-Wheel basis. When considering the potential in using 80% renewable gas mix, a complete carbon neutrality can be achieved.

Methane emissions are often disputed as offsetting the benefits of using gas in transport. When talking about GHG emissions, it should not be forgotten that CO2-equivalent include all possible methane emissions during the use of the fuel. According to the 2017 Thinkstep study (see www.ngvemissionsstudy.eu), methane emissions for CNG and LNG in Europe are 0.651 wt% and 1.073 wt% respectively on Well-to-Tank basis.

Reduced emissions thanks to technology

On the vehicle side significant improvements have been achieved for reducing methane emissions with closed gearboxes and dedicated aftertreatment catalyst. The only methane emissions observed are coming from the exhaust and are below 1% CO2 equivalent on a Tank-to-Wheel basis.

Renewable gas offers a further decarbonization potential to the transport sector beyond the tailpipe emission reduction, that NGVs are already offer in comparison with conventional fuels. Advanced renewable gases offer high CO2 reduction potential with the liquid manure offering even negative carbon emissions.

Moreover, natural gas technology is fully compatible with renewable gas: this can be both directly used on vehicles and injected in the distribution grid. For this reason, the gas infrastructure plays a fundamental role in ensuring flexibility to manage the injection and blending of renewable gas, also storage of huge amounts of energy coming also from the power-to-gas generation process.

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This article is the fifth publications under the title "Why natural and renewable gas is among the solutions for a clean and decarbonized transport system". Find related publications in the related content section below.

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