March 23, 2021. As a low-emission fuel, natural gas is becoming increasingly popular with logistics specialists. The volume of sales of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the 46 German LNG filling stations tripled in 2020 compared to the previous year. This is the result of a survey conducted by the Zukunft Gas industrial initiative. This trend is confirmed by the high demand for LNG trucks as part of the low energy and/or low CO2 emission heavy commercial vehicle financing program introduced in 2018. About 87% of financing requests received at the end of 2020 were for LNG vehicles and another 12% for those that run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
“There is virtually no alternative to natural gas as an alternative fuel in heavy traffic, especially in the form of LNG,” explains Dr. Timm Kehler, CEO of Zukunft Gas. “Logistics specialists not only benefit from long distances and fast refueling processes without unnecessary downtime. The switch to natural gas is also financially worthwhile thanks to the toll exemption, which runs through 2023. And with the continuation of vehicle financing as part of the Truck Fleet Swap program, the Legislature is also supporting the growth of the market. The expansion of service stations is also progressing; the number of LNG stations in Germany has increased to 46 today. Many more will begin operations this year.”
In 2020 alone, sales of almost 48,000 tons of LNG avoided CO2 emissions equivalent to around 36,500 tonnes compared to diesel vehicles. According to the plans of the Federal Ministry of Transport, savings of only 20,000 tons of CO2 equivalent were expected by 2020. If bioLNG is used more and more in the future, the vehicles will even be almost neutral for the climate. In addition, the use of natural gas, both in the form of LNG and CNG, significantly reduces emissions of nitrogen oxide and fine dust. Compared to their diesel counterparts, natural gas trucks also have 50% lower noise emissions. As a result, natural gas vehicles are also suitable for overnight deliveries, especially in downtown areas.
This is reflected in new registration statistics from the Federal Motor Transportation Authority: with nearly 1,400 newly registered natural gas vehicles, the heavy duty segment set a record in 2020. Natural gas trucks registered a growth of more than 80% compared to the previous year. New registrations also increased dramatically for vehicles over 12 tons, by 31%.
However, for the benefits of natural gas to continue to be exploited in the transport sector, the policy framework must also be appropriate. “If we want to stay the course with regard to the protection of the environment through natural gas, as of 2023, LNG should not be excluded in any case from the trading of GHG quotas, as required by the renewable energy directive RED II. Otherwise, small and medium-sized companies would be forced out of the LNG filling station business, which would mean losing valuable infrastructure for future bioLNG sales. While, in heavy goods traffic, the objective of climate neutrality would be far behind,” concludes Kehler.