The Federal Government’s planned measures for the expansion of natural-gas-based mobility are insufficient to achieve the desired national goal of increasing the proportion of natural gas in the German fuel mix to four per cent by 2020. This is the message of a statement on the National Strategy Framework (NSR) for the Expansion of the Infrastructure for Alternative Fuels issued by the Initiative for Natural-Gas-Based Mobility, which is coordinated by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – the German Energy Agency. It contains a call by the Initiative for an ambitious approach to strengthening the positions of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as low-emission fuels in transport.
In considering the strategy’s positive side, the Initiative welcomed the proposed introduction of comparative price labelling for all fuels at service stations, reduced network charges for natural gas, and the adjustment of lorry tolls in favour of low-emission lorries. However, these measures needed to be implemented quickly. Any further deliberations and delays would only reinforce the uncertainty in the market. For example, the extended tax relief for natural gas, announced back in 2013, had still not come into effect.
Great potential for heavy goods traffic
In the Initiative’s opinion, the strategy should focus more on natural gas, particularly with regard to heavy goods vehicle transport. To achieve this, the funding programme needed to make better provision for energy-efficient lorries. The funding programme for low-emission buses had to offer clear prospects for natural gas buses. Ultimately, funding for the expansion of the LNG infrastructure should not be made subject to the proportion of renewable methane used. No such quota was planned for renewable energy in the expansion of the electricity and hydrogen infrastructures.
As a fuel, natural gas offers a technically developed and economically attractive alternative means of reducing emissions from traffic, even in the short term, whether in the form of CNG or LNG. For long-distance heavy goods vehicles it is now the only competitive option. Natural gas can be used flexibly not only in transport, but also in other sectors, such as heating, electricity or industry. Moreover, methane, the main component of natural gas, can also be produced with the help of renewable energy sources. The strategy needed to give far greater consideration to these benefits.
National Strategy Framework for alternative fuels
The National Strategy Framework is a part of the implementation of the European directive 2014/94/EU for the expansion of the alternative fuels infrastructure (AFI directive). All EU member states had to submit a strategy with specific targets and measures by mid-November. Besides natural gas, the strategy also covers the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and the infrastructure for the supply of hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles. The aim of the EU directive is to increase the proportion of alternative fuels in transport.
About the Initiative for Natural-Gas-Based Mobility
The Initiative for Natural Gas-Based Mobility brings together vehicle manufacturers, the petroleum, natural gas and biogas industries, providers of service station technology and the German automobile club, ADAC. It is coordinated by dena and is under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Transport. As part of the initiative, dena, along with the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW) and the industry initiative, Zukunft ERDGAS – Future NATURAL GAS – also set up the LNG task force at the end of 2015, specifically to promote LNG in heavy goods vehicle transport.