Decentralized Natural Gas Vehicle Refueling – Bridge to Electromobility

Decentralized Natural Gas Vehicle Refueling – Bridge to Electromobility

The largest share of CO2 emissions in Germany is caused by the energy industry with more than 300 million t / a, followed by CO2 emissions from transport (100 million t / a). However, while emissions from the energy industry have been declining for years, emissions in the transport sector tend to increase. To achieve Germany’s climate protection goals, a significant reduction in emissions is therefore also necessary in the transport sector.

The electric mobility is therefore promoted from all sides, but at present (still) can not make a significant contribution to climate protection:

  • At the end of 2018, 36,000 electric vehicles were registered. Compared to the total of more than 50 million vehicles in Germany, this is only a very small proportion. By contrast, there are almost 100,000 natural gas / biogas vehicles on Germany’s roads.
  • The range of electric vehicles is lower than that of vehicles powered by fossil fuels, as the energy density of the batteries is significantly lower than that of fossil fuels. At the same time, the specific weight of batteries based on the energy content is much higher. Therefore, electric vehicles are not suitable for longer distances or vehicles for transportation.
  • The specific CO2 avoidance costs are high for electric vehicles. For example, a normal electric car costs about 10 T € more than a comparable petrol-powered car. By comparison, natural gas passenger cars are about € 2,500 more expensive than gasoline-powered cars because they rely largely on the same vehicles and components as other conventional vehicles from the same manufacturers. Assuming the current energy mix, one can count on an electric vehicle at 10 T € extra cost with about 60% emission reduction compared to a gasoline vehicle. For the same extra cost you could acquire 4 natural gas vehicles and lower with that solution the combined emissions almost twice as strong as the electric vehicle.
  • The supply infrastructure for charging electric vehicles needs to be further developed, in particular with regard to public charging stations accessible to all road users. For natural gas vehicles, there is a network of public service stations that has been available almost on a nationwide basis for years.

Therefore, as promising as electric vehicles are, it makes sense to consider other vehicle concepts and energy sources for a quick and short-term reduction of emissions in traffic. In particular, natural gas / biogas vehicles are attractive because they are based on proven technology, use an already available filling station network and have only slightly higher purchase costs than petrol and diesel vehicles and yet compared to these significantly lower emission (CO2, micro-particles, etc.). In addition, they keep the door open to electric vehicles which will in future be fueled with gaseous or liquid energy sources based on EE, e.g. hydrogen. After all, “electromobility” does not have to mean “battery vehicles” in the future.

Against this background, the Decentralized Natural Gas Vehicle Refueling project aims to further enhance the acceptance of natural gas vehicles, simplify the operation of natural gas vehicles, and test a concept of fuelling at home or at work, which could be also used in battery and hydrogen mobility solutions.