Natural gas vehicles fuel 15% biomethane in Europe

Currently, there are 1.3 million natural gas-fuelled cars registered in Europe as well as 16,000 buses, 9,000 small vans and 6,000 trucks, according to the European Natural & bio Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA). That includes vehicles fuelled by CNG, LNG and their bio equivalents.

Gas vehicles are "very attractive to customers, particularly in the truck segment, given the affordability of the fuel", says Martina Conton, EU policy manager at NGVA Europe, noting that, for trucks, LNG is competitive with traditional fuels. The key driver of increasing penetration of natural gas in the road transport sector will be the commercial freight sector, which will be focused on LNG in the long-haul freight sector and also CNG for buses and light commercial vehicles usage. Therefore, NGVA Europe estimates that by 2030, CNG-fuelled vehicles will account for 12 % of new passenger car registrations, and for 25 % and 33 % of new truck and bus registrations respectively.

Italy, Europe's biggest market for natural gas vehicles (NGVs), with around 1 million vehicles registered, is expected to remain the key outlet for CNG passenger cars in Europe, albeit at a low level. The commitment of Italian carmaker Fiat to developing LPG vehicles for the passenger car market in recent years has also driven NGV growth, as the creation of an LPG market also supported the roll out of CNG cars. A 68 % increase in NGVs in Italy since 2008 was also driven by tax cuts and government subsidies, Conton says. This growth led to a doubling in the number of refuelling stations, particularly in the north. "Another trend is an increasing focus on biomethane use, especially in northern Italy, on the back of EU legislation on climate change, " says Conton. Greater consumer awareness has led to more calls for wider availability of biomethane in both gaseous (bio-CNG) and liquefied (bio-LNG) forms. Across Europe, as many as 420 CNG refuelling stations now offer biomethane exclusively, which accounts for around 15 % of all gas used for transport, or roughly 2 billion m3/yr.