In order to realize sustainable mobility in Europe, both urban and long distance vehicles for road transport will have to be significantly more efficient by 2020+. Most part of these targets will be achieved improving vehicle aerodynamics, through vehicle weight reduction and by influencing driving patterns. At the same time, a considerable contribution will have to come from the energy efficiency improvement of the powertrain. Moreover, in 2030 more than 65% of all road transport vehicles will be still powered by Internal Combustion Engines - ICE - running on liquid fuels, and therefore engines will have to become thermodynamically more efficient. In the same timeframe, renewable fuels should cover 25% of the energy demand for the road transport, while it is expected that until then the mainstream fuels will resemble current fuels (Diesel oil and gasoline) and will consist of blends of fossil fuels with increasing amounts of biomass-derived components. This means that future engines will have to be able to cope with the resulting variation in fuel quality. On the other hand, together with the progressive efficiency increase coming from the engine technology evolution, the use of Low-Carbon Alternative Fuels, such as Natural Gas, will play a fundamental role to accelerate the process of decarbonization of the transportation sector that in Europe is targeted for the 2050 time horizon. In this scenario the main actions to pursue are:
  • reduce the energy needed by the vehicle during operation;
  • increase the efficiency of the internal combustion engine;
  • adapt the engine to fuels with low fossil carbon content;
  • shift to powertrains fed by new energy vectors that enable the use of non-fossil energy sources.

In addition to the reduction of the carbon footprint through the mitigation of the CO2 emissions, the demand to reduce air pollution due to transportation vehicles moves again through the adoption of alternative fuels able also to decrease progressively the dependence on crude oil. In fact, the drivers for the alternative fuels adoption come down to five key issues:
  • energy security: the fuel has to allow reducing usage of imported crude oil and having alternative and better geopolitically distributed sources than crude oil with a suitable ratio in terms of consumption / reserves
  • environmental benefits: lower gaseous (i.e. CO2, NOx, particulate matter, ozone promoters, greenhouse gases)
  • safety: the fuel has to guarantee the same or a better safety standard than gasoline / Diesel oil
  • performance: the fuel has to comply with customer appeal comparable to conventional fuels in terms of availability (adequate number of refilling station per area), vehicle range and vehicle/engine performance
  • economics: the fuel has to be cheaper than gasoline / Diesel oil to recover the additional vehicle cost within a reasonable lapse of time.

Why CNG?

One of the strategic options to fulfill the above mentioned drivers is Natural Gas because it is:
  • A viable near/medium term option for energy diversification and to lessen the transportation system dependence on crude oil due to globally wider reserves and a better geopolitical distribution
  • An intrinsically clean fuel with the lowest carbon content and tailpipe CO2 emissions among hydrocarbon fuels, able to heavily reduce transportation greenhouse gas emissions and to provide significant contribution to air quality improvement
  • A structurally cheaper solution due to less expensive production, transportation, and distribution and the technology is proven, available, and at low cost compared to other alternatives
  • A strategic asset that supports progressive diversification from fossil fuels as bio-methane or hydrogen produced from renewable sources and biomasses.
The benefits of the Natural Gas Vehicles adoption in Europe are well known and can be summarized as follows:
  • capability to provide a relevant contribution for 2020 CO2 targets
    • allowing drastically reduction of greenhouse gases and local pollution as photochemical smog (bad ozone)
  • the only real alternative to conventional vehicles (both from fossil and renewable sources)
    • strategic in terms of energy security due to independence to crude oil and replacer with geopolitically well distributed sources and higher ratio consumption / reserves than conventional fuels
  • compliance towards 2020+ targets with massive adoption of bio methane
    • immediate usage of bio methane w/o change in technology and a bridge for bio-multi fuel exploitation (Ethanol, Hydrogen)
  • the already most relevant fleet of alternative fuel vehicles in Europe (close to 1 Mega units)
    • already demonstrated relevant contribution to lower gaseous than conventional fuels
  • flexibility to adopt all technologies under development for conventional fuel enhancing the benefits thanks to a synergic integration
    • capability to improve engine efficiency above 50% adopting new technology under development for conventional fuel engines
  • capability to sustain market demand during economic crisis and/or price peaks of the oil barrel
    • cheaper than conventional fuels with acceptable payback
  • pipelines network well diffused and ready to host bio methane injection
    • in some European countries there is an adequate availability of refueling stations, vehicle portfolio with conventional fuel equivalent range and engine performance.