Vehicles with alternative fuels such as natural gas or biomethane offer great potential for reducing environmental and climate emissions. Hence, they make a significant contribution to realising the Federal Government's energy and climate policy goals: For example, the greenhouse gas emissions for the current biomethane-natural gas mix are currently around 30 percent lower than that of comparable petrol vehicles and 20 percent below that of diesel vehicles.
However, the development of the market is faced with great challenges: The density of the existing good petrol station infrastructure needs to be further increased. Customers need to be informed of the alternatives and convinced of their advantages. Basic political parameters need to be defined so that everyone can benefit from the full advantages of the environmental and climate-related benefits of CNG and LNG in transportation.
Hence, the development of the market is dependent on the joint coordinated activities of various players from the vehicle and energy industries with the involvement of politics.
In order to meet these challenges, the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – the German Energy Agency founded the cross-sectoral "Initiative for Natural-Gas-Based Mobility – Natural Gas and Biomethane as Fuels" in 2011, under the patronage of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). In December 2015, the LNG task force was formed in order to establish LNG as an alternative to diesel fuel in heavy goods traffic. Apart from customer organisations, the initiative also brings together well-known energy and transport enterprises across the entire value chain. It supports the Federal Government's aim of increasing the share of CNG (compressed natural gas) and LNG (liquefied natural gas) in the transport sector. To this end, it consolidates the positions of the companies and industries involved, compiles information, and develops recommended courses of action.
In 2011, the companies involved signed a joint declaration of intent with defined goals. This included expanding the range of vehicles and promoting it better, the expansion of the natural gas filling station network in Germany, and increasing the share of biomethane in the fuel mix. Furthermore, the political framework was also to be improved. Over the last few years, the collaboration of the stakeholders has led to a significant increase in the range of natural gas vehicles on offer. Today, natural gas and biomethane are marketed in a more visible manner via a word-image brand. And for politicians as well, the Initiative has become a central point of contact for questions regarding the topic of natural-gas-based mobility.