DATS 24, the Belgian leader in CNG (compressed natural gas) and pioneer of automated fueling stations, believes CNG is currently the most ecological and economically efficient fuel type available. The Colruyt Group’s fuel supplier operates 46 CNG stations, mainly in the Flemish Region, and plans to build 30 extra CNG stations by March 2018.
The inauguration of two new stations in Namur (16/01/2017) and Braine l’Alleud (20/01/2017) emphasizes DATS 24’s ambition to roll out a national network of CNG stations in Belgium. Of the new stations to be built over the next 15 months, 2 out of every 3 stations will be built in the Wallonia Region in Belgium’s south. Offering this fuel type is in line with the sustainable development strategy of Colruyt Group, as well as Wallonia. 15 additional permit applications have already been filed with the relevant authorities to extend the network to the main road routes in the region.
“CNG is less expensive, better for the environment and safer than traditional fuels,” explains Raf Flebus, Business Unit Manager for DATS 24. “Not only is natural gas cheaper at the pump, but CNG vehicles also consume less. It is also better for the environment: compared to diesel engines, CNG vehicles emit 12% less CO2, 70% less nitrous oxide (NOx) and 95% less fine particles. CNG does not emit benzene or carcinogenic particles, nor soot. Finally, CNG is safer than LPG because it is immediately dispersed in air.”
“CNG vehicles are therefore perfectly acceptable in underground car parks. Additionally, Colruyt Group uses numerous CNG vehicles: our car park has over 900 CNG vehicles (both cars and vans and also a heavy duty truck),” continued Raf Flebus. The company says that with the advent of the 400 Hp Iveco Stralis NPis likely to considerably increase the uptake of heavy duty NGVs.
DATS 24 views natural gas as the ideal transition fuel to a future hydrogen-fuel marketplace: “We believe that hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources is the fuel of the future”, confirms Flebus. “But it is likely to be another 15-20 years before this alternative is feasible and offered to individuals. Which is too long under the current conditions, if we consider climate issues. The Earth is getting warmer and our air quality is getting poorer. The issue of fine particles is particularly serious in Belgium, and particularly Flanders. It is for this reason that we are 100% behind CNG. Natural gas is accessible to all budgets and has an important role to play in the reduction of CO2 and fine particle emissions. ”
Currently, there are 68 CNG stations operating in the country, servicing almost 5,400 NGVs. Pitpoint, a recent player on the market, has at least eight new stations planned for 2017 and Enora, a Walloon provider, will add two new stations. All suppliers combined there is expected to be about 100 stations open by March 2018.
According to information published by the Belgian Natural Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA.be), that rate of expansion is exceeding expectations. Favourable tax measures is stimulating NGV uptake, says the Association. The exemption from BIV (car registration tax) and annual road tax for CNG vehicles by Minister Tommelein has clearly had an effect in Flanders. In 2016, for the first time more natural gas vehicles than electric vehicles were registered, as FEBIAC (Belgium Federation of Cars and Two-Wheeler Industries) confirmed earlier.
“We actually propose that there is a healthy interest in alternatives to diesel and gasoline,” said Didier Hendrickx, President of NGVA.be. “For someone who is looking for an alternative car which is feasible and affordable, and better for the environment, natural gas is the ideal choice. Everything taken into account, with CNG you save EUR 3.5 (USD 3.76) per 100 km compared to a diesel vehicle; the gas is cheaper at the pump and the cars consume less.”
As of July 1, 2017 all CNG vans are exempt from road tax in Flanders, saving drivers about € 135 a year.”
(Source: DATS 24, NGVA.be)