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18 March 2021

Zukunft Gas: 3 questions for Dr Jens Andersen

The following interview is translated from German and was originally posted at Zukunft Gas:

The Natural & bio Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA Europe) is the European association that promotes the use of natural and renewable gas as a transport fuel. Recently, the board of NGVA Europe appointed Dr Jens Andersen as the new Secretary General of the association. He looks back on more than 28 years of experience in the automotive industry.

  1. Dr Andersen, you are Secretary General of NGVA Europe since 1 March 2021. What is in your agenda for the next 6 months?

I have the great opportunity to further develop NGVA Europe as an association and to continue positioning gas mobility with biomethane as the best, cleanest and climate-neutral technology. While the technological development advancements are far from over, gas mobility also offers great and usable synergies with green hydrogen.

The “European Green Deal” is a unique opportunity to incorporate these facts into necessary, supporting legislation.

Since there is no such thing as an "one-size-fits-all" solution, we will focus our activities to do everything we can to support the European institutions in their legislative process. With the help of figures, data and facts, we will convince them of the sustainability of gas mobility which needs to be positioned as an essential part to support the Green Deal.

  1. What are the challenges for gas mobility in the European Union?

If we seriously want to achieve climate neutrality in the European Union by 2050, it is necessary to take all sustainable technologies into account that are available today. In my opinion, the European Green Deal is the right answer in times of climate change and technological upheavals. The more we use Europe's numerous technological competencies, the more effectively we will tackle climate change.

One of the best, if not most effective, measures to reduce emissions is to replace fuels made from crude oil – such as diesel – with renewable methane, preferably produced from waste and liquid manure. A large number of scientific studies, issued by recognized institutions, have shown that we can even achieve negative (!) greenhouse gas emissions with methane produced out of the right feedstock.

With its existing and growing European CNG and LNG filling station infrastructure as well as an attractive range of vehicles, gas mobility, which is preferably based on biomethane, is the best and cheapest technology to achieving CO2 reductions.

  1. In Brussels, the CO₂ emission performance standards regulation will be revised soon. Can gas mobility offer the important regulatory framework for an European breakthrough?

The CO2 fleet regulation is certainly one of the most important European laws, and the revision will have far-reaching consequences for the future of the mobility sector. This is because it regulates the permitted CO2 emissions from all European vehicles.

Currently, however, the fleet regulation measures CO2 emissions only at the exhaust pipe of a vehicle and thus ignores all emissions- or emissions savings that arise- or can be saved already in the stage of fuel production. Vehicles that run on biomethane are considered to be the most environmentally friendly vehicles, but this is not taken into account due to the focus on so-called “tailpipe emissions”.

Because the European Union’s goal is to reach the maximum reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the assessment method for determining fleet emissions must be adapted to this assessment standard. In my opinion, it cannot be the aim of the EU Commission that of all things, besides pure electric vehicles, the most environmentally friendly combustion engines, driving with methane made from sustainable production, become victims of the current accounting methodology while emissions of large diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles are offset by subsidized BEVs.

This, especially with the background that electromobility does not require any further "puppy protection" due to extensive funding measures and the associated increase in sales. A truly green solution – that of gas mobility with sustainable methane – must not fall victim to the European Green Deal as “collateral damage”, so to speak.

My clear message to the European institutions is therefore that even with the world's best gas engines from European companies, more should be done for climate protection and air pollution control – without any legislative distortion of competition.