Cenex, the UK’s centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies, has released the ‘Green Fleet Technology Study for Public Transport’ report, which points to natural gas as the mainstream fuel solution for cleaner public transport in the short to medium term. The aim of the study was to inform the multi-city Public Procurement of Innovation in Action Network (PPIA) of the main technological advances and future developments in transport which address the challenge of mitigating climate change.
Looking at availability in a 20-year time frame, the report focuses on alternative drivetrain technologies and fuels that offer carbon reduction from city buses, although technologies relevant to taxis are also discussed. The primary focus is on likely performance of short-medium term solutions (< 10 years).
Cenex reports gas bus vehicles are mature, widely used throughout Europe, and present commercially competitive technologies offering lower carbon and cleaner public transport. Other technologies, such as electric-hybrids, are limited due to high incremental cost, with deployment highly dependent on financial incentives and tax regimes.
Similarly for taxis and small transportation vehicles, natural gas models abound and are technologically mature, as are hybrid and flex-fuel cars. High cost and incentive dependence again limit adoption of other low-carbon technologies.
More than 13,000 gas buses are now operated throughout Europe, with France and Germany accounting for nearly 5,000 of these, according to statistics supplied by NGVA Europe. Gas buses are popular in city centres due to the combination of low running costs and substantially reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
Looking ahead, the report concludes gas vehicles will continue to be mainstream technology in EU. By 2020, natural gas buses are expected to increase in numbers throughout Europe with improved engine efficiency (and hence cost proposition) and reduced CO2 due to the increased use of biomethane, a renewable fuel. Stepping further out to 2025, gas vehicles operating with blended biomethane will also increase in numbers due to growth of infrastructure provision supported through the Clean Fuels Directive.
Cenex expects emissions from natural gas vehicles (NGVs) will improve due to advancements in spark ignition engines technology, and natural gas hybrids will become increasingly utilised by public transportation providers for their reduced fuel cost. Although fuel availability increases significantly due to implementation of the EU Clean Fuels Directive, the economics will continue to be subject to gas network provision.
The mobility technology foresighting study was commissioned by the Public Procurement of Innovation in Action Network (PPIA), consisting of Budapest, Castellon, Valencia, Wroclaw and Birmingham as the lead partner, which collectively aim to accelerate innovation through transfer of know-how and best practice.
A full copy of the Cenex report is available by clicking here (pdf file).