Natural Gas and Biomethane in the Fuel Mix of the Future.
The 2010 goals of the German government's strategy to establish natural gas as a fuel will not be met and the goals for 2020 can only be achieved if our efforts are speeded up. dena's study shows how the introduction of natural gas and biomethane to the transport sector can be accelerated and the number of natural gas vehicles on Germany's roads increased from 85,000 to 1.4 million by 2020.
Required action and possible solutions in the accelerated establishment of natural gas for transport
The energy situation and our climate call for a greater diversification in the engines and fuels used.
Foreseeable rises in energy prices, the finiteness of crude oil which currently dominates the transport sector, and ambitious climate change targets require that alternative engines and fuels be introduced. It is for this reason that the use of natural gas and biomethane for fuel is being pushed forwards, not only within the EU, but throughout the world. In 2004, the German government's fuel strategy thus assumed that the fuel potential of natural gas would have reached at least 0.5 to 1 percent in 2010 and 2 to 4 percent by 2020. This is the equivalent of 1.4 million vehicles in 2020.
The goals for the contribution of natural gas and biomethane to the fuel mix have not yet been met.
The potential of natural gas and biomethane as a fuel has not been exhausted despite sophisticated technologies: the contribution of natural gas to overall fuel consumption was a meagre 0.3 percent at the end of 2009, and only 85,000 of the 50 million vehicles on the road in Germany are currently powered by natural gas. In other words, only one third of the targets set for 2010 have been met. The only way to raise the potential by 2020 is to increase the number of natural gas vehicles by an annual 29 percent, and this can only be achieved if the number of commercial vehicles powered by natural gas grows. European countries such as Sweden or Italy show that market development of such rapid dimensions is indeed possible.
The properties of natural gas speak for its accelerated establishment for transport.
Of all the fossil fuels, natural gas emits the least carbon dioxide, and its use would therefore cause around 24 percent less emissions of this greenhouse gas than petrol does. It also produces far less pollutants such as soot and nitrogen oxide than petrol or diesel. Introducing natural gas as a fuel helps to diversify the resources used in the transport sector and extends the portfolio of energy supplying countries.
Adding biomethane can increase the benefits to the climate, environment and resources.
Climate impact, environmental properties and resource availability can be further improved by injecting biomethane produced in Germany into the existing natural gas grid and using it in transportation. A 20 percent blend can cause 39 percent less CO2 emissions than petrol, and using pure biomethane can increase this figure by up to 97 percent, depending on the angle from which the matter is considered. And the resources needed to produce biomethane are by no means exhausted: every natural gas vehicle in the year 2020 could in theory be powered by pure biomethane, even if the four-percent target discussed above is achieved. The amount of biomethane used must also have been certified in accordance with Germany's Biofuel Sustainability Regulation if it is to be credited to the biofuel quota and be applicable for tax relief.
Market penetration requires commitment to a concrete roadmap from everyone involved.
One of the reasons for the relatively slow establishment to date of natural gas as a fuel, a development which is also slow in comparison to other countries, is the lack of a joint definition by the groups involved of measures to be taken and of a commitment to the implementation of these measures. Some of the players do stand out for individual actions. But ultimately, the state and its policies, the petroleum industry with its network of fuel stations, the gas economy (including the biomethane producers), auto manufacturers and dealers, and the research institutes all have varying interests and target the consumer without reference to one another. Important customer requirements are often not addressed as pointedly as the individual target groups would like.
dena's study shows which measures need to be implemented by which market players for the potential inherent in the use of natural gas and biomethane for transport to be captured in full. If all of the groups involved can come to joint agreement regarding the measures required and implement these together in a monitored process, natural gas and biomethane will be able to play their part, together with other drive technologies, in accelerating the diversification of the fuel mix and mitigating climate change.
Working in close collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) and various industrial partners, dena is currently planning to set up a strategic process to devise a jointly agreed roadmap.