A joint energy conference held by Gazprom and Audi (VW) as a side event to the season finale of the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) in Hockenheim on 14 October, delivered a clear message: electromobility alone will not be enough to achieve the energy transformation in Germany’s transportation sector. Policymakers are called upon to action clarification of the alt-fuels legal framework and give fair consider to all alternatives fuels, including natural and renewable methane.
The conference focused on the contribution which natural gas, biomethane (RNG) and synthetic, renewable methane can make towards the success of Germany’s energy transformation. All of the invited experts from the worlds of business, academics and the media concluded that these low-carbon, methane-containing energy sources have been neglected far too much by policymakers in Germany.
Dr Jens Andersen, Group Representative for Natural Gas Mobility at Volkswagen AG, stated that at the moment the term natural gas still has a much-too-negative connotation for many people. He added that just the use of fossil natural gas in road transport has considerable advantages for the environment, the economy and the driver. Yet the ecological potential of CNG mobility is far greater through the use of biomethane and synthetic methane from power-to-gas plants, which can use wind and solar power surpluses. Andersen says the recent recognition of this by the federal government must be followed up with concrete measures in order to foster the energy transformation in the mobility sector.
“Germany is currently not achieving its climate protection goals,” also warned Dr Timm Kehler, Spokesman of the Initiative Zukunft ERDGAS e.V. He said this was primarily due to the mobility sector and spoke of a “negative trend”, adding that in 2016 there were fewer new registrations of CNG vehicles in Germany than in the preceding years. Kehler concluded that this trend must be counteracted if lost ground is to be made up and climate protection goals realised.
Matthias Maedge, General Secretary of NGVA Europe (European Natural & bio Gas Vehicle Association) nevertheless laid out an ambitious goal for 2030, stating that by then around 20 per cent of all newly registered vehicles in Europe could be operated with natural gas if fair market conditions were created. He mentioned, though, that in the EU natural gas is still an “unloved child” because when it comes to sustainability the focus is almost exclusively on electromobility. He also pointed out that biomethane from organic residues, which is a virtually climate-neutral source of fuel, already accounts for 20 per cent of the fuel quantities sold today at CNG pumps in Germany and Switzerland.
In this context Kurt Sigl, President of the German Federal Association eMobilität e.V., also went to bat for natural gas vehicles, reminding everyone that “we all have the same objective” and calling for closer cooperation between all participants in order to achieve a significant reduction in CO2 (carbon dioxide) and NOX (nitrogen oxide) emissions in the coming years.
The participants ultimately agreed that policymakers must make a clearer commitment to all sources of sustainable energy and that a prompt clarification of the legal framework is necessary. “Policymakers must recognize the indispensable role that natural gas can play in the success of the energy transformation, also in the transport sector, and create a level playing field for all alternative fuels,” emphasized Uwe Johann, Managing Director of Gazprom NGV Europe, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gazprom Germania GmbH.
(Source: Gazprom Germania GmbH)
NGVA Europe is an affiliated association of NGV Global.