CNG-Mobility – Challenges and Opportunities for Biomethane

CNG-vehicles: the eternal underdog

Contrary to current political trends in Europe, vehicles powered by CNG (compressed natural gas) or LNG (liquefied natural gas) are still the most environmentally and climate-friendly mobility solution. Especially when comparing them to both traditional petrol and diesel based engine technology and electric vehicles.

E-mobility isn't reducing emissions

With the consequences for environment and climate largely known for internal combustion engines, electric mobility is still described ambivalently. However, one thing is abundantly clear: thanks to electric vehicles, particle emissions are simply removed from inner cities – not the atmosphere. The burden of pollution is simply shifted – not decreased. Since currently just under 60% of the electricity generated in Germany is produced from non-renewable sources – primarily from burning fossil coal and nuclear power plants – both particle and CO2-emissions still occur – just at a different location.

Drive technologies for public transport

Due to massive investments, the politically desired e-mobility is currently strongly subsidized in German and European cities. Berlin for example ordered a total of 30 electric buses for public transportation at the beginning of 2019, which will cost them about 18 million euros total. The costs of around € 600,000 per electric bus is subsidized proportionately by the Federal Ministries of Transport (BMVI) and the Environment (BMU). Furthermore, this number is planned to increase to a total of 120 vehicles by 2022.

Germany’s sole focus at this moment seems to be exclusive on e-mobility, which poses the important question: will there be a niche for CNG or biomethane vehicles in the future? And if yes, how big will it be?

As a matured and ready-to-use technology, CNG vehicles are the perfect alternative to the classic internal combustion engine, burning diesel or gasoline. It’s ideal for public transportation, individual mobility and the transport sector. And although public transportation with biomethane buses has been working successfully and sustainably in several German cities (since 2011 in Augsburg), there are currently no new investments in projects of other municipalities on the horizon.

With no mobility solution that is more climate-friendly in fuel production than biomethane produced from organic residues, this hard to understand. Yet cities and municipalities invest almost exclusively in electric vehicles when upgrading their fleets.

Biomethane in freight transportation

Over 99% of road freight transportation and the majority of commercial traffic on German roads is fueled by diesel engines. Their dangerous exhaust emissions were responsible for lots of negative headlines in the last couple of years.

A very suitable fuel alternative to diesel for long-distance transport is biomethane, either compressed (CNG) or liquefied (LNG).

Below infographic from DVGW (German Association for Gas and Water) makes an impressive case for more renewable gas on Europe’s highways, especially when it comes to freight transportation.

Infographic by DVGW, translated

International biomethane conference in October 2019

To shed some light on the opportunities and challenges of a biomethane-based mobility, the international conference “Progress in Biomethane Mobility” will take place from 15th to 17th of October 2019, in Schwäbisch Hall, Baden-Württemberg.

During this event, current trends, concepts, technologies and innovations are presented to a specific international audience.

Important: If you register before August 2nd, you’ll benefit from an early bird discount of 100 € on the participation fee.

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