October 17, 2019. According to a study conducted by the IFP Energies Nouvelles research institute in France, “for light, commercial and even heavy vehicles of twelve tons, the use of a biomethane-driven engine offers the best results in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases”. These results are above hybrid and electric cars, since, as they warn in the study, the emissions of the whole life cycle, from the well to the wheel, have been taken into account, and not only those derived from the use in vehicles.
The study compares the carbon footprint of the entire life cycle of compressed gas and biomethane vehicles with that of diesel, gasoline, hybrid and electric vehicles, and concludes that biomethane offers the best results for light, commercial and heavy vehicles of twelve tons. In the buses they surpass the electrical ones to those of biomethane.
In the first three cases (light, commercial and heavy), the study indicates that biomethane “is closely followed by rechargeable hybrids in their exclusive operation as electric, theoretical case, because it is hardly applied to real conditions with only 50-70 km of autonomy, particularly for long routes”. They also point out that “hybridization with biomethane improves the results even more compared to gasoline, diesel or gas.”
Thirdly, electric vehicles appear. The IPF Energies Nouvelles study explains that “these vehicles, when using high capacity batteries, are penalized for the large amount of CO2 emitted during the manufacture of the battery, largely as a result of the extraction and refining of the metals used (lithium, cobalt, nickel…) and for the processes that consume energy in the manufacture and assembly of the cells”.
From the European Biogas Association they warn that this conclusion derives from measuring the emissions from well to wheel, that is to say of the whole life cycle, instead of the deposit of the fuel to the wheel (known as tank-to-wheel). And remember that “the EU agreed to reduce the average CO2 emissions of new cars by 15 percent in 2025 and by 37.5 in 2030, but by measuring the emissions from the tank to the wheel.”
Gas, diesel and gasoline vehicles occupy the latest positions in GHG emissions in the IPF Energies Nouvelles study. However, in the conclusions they propose that a solution to deploy vehicles with biomethane more quickly would be to mix it with compressed natural gas (CNG). “This would allow to feed a greater number of vehicles – they add -, while maintaining a very favorable GHG balance, especially if the engine hybridizes.”