Ireland has received a major stimulus for its planned network of 70 public and private Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations with funding of €6.4m (USD 8.06m) being allocated by the EU Commission, for applicant Gas Networks Ireland. The gas distributor says the funds will enable it to complete the first phase of construction, of up to 14 CNG stations.
Additionally, the EU funding will support the construction of a renewable gas injection point and provide support to commercial vehicle owners wishing to purchase dedicated CNG vehicles, ensuring that renewable gas will become part of Ireland’s transport fuel mix.
Prior to receipt of the funds, Gas Networks Ireland had already commenced construction of a fast-fill CNG refuelling station at the Clean Ireland Recycling premises at Smithstown Industrial Estate, Shannon, Co. Clare.
From early 2017, commercial users will be able to switch from vehicles powered by heavy emission fuels, such as diesel, to a cleaner gas alternative. The network will include public filling stations and a number of private stations, with the latter developed in partnership with heavy fuel users. The public network strategy includes co-location of CNG stations with existing conventional fuel stations.
First stations of the CNG network will be opening in early 2017. The network will be delivered along the main transport corridors, principally the motorway network. CNG is particularly suited to commercial transport, where longer journeys and heavier loads mean that electric vehicles are not a viable option. Under the programme, Gas Networks Ireland will be looking for partners to integrate CNG equipment into conventional forecourts throughout the country. This designated fuelling infrastructure will allow CNG to be delivered from fast-fill dispensers, with similar fill times to diesel and petrol.
Grant funding to assist in the purchase of CNG-powered vehicles will focus on heavy goods vehicles and buses. Further details on this funding will be outlined in early 2017.
A number of vehicle manufacturers currently provide a comprehensive range of CNG vehicles to Irish fleet operators. As a show of confidence in the market, Iveco launched their ground-breaking, dedicated CNG Stralis 400 horsepower articulated truck into the Irish market in 2016. Other major vehicle manufacturers, and their Irish distributors, including Scania, are also expected to launch new CNG models into the Irish market in the coming months.
The most recent SEAI report on energy in transport indicates that transport accounts for approximately 40% of Irish energy consumption and 33% of Irish C02 emissions. 88% of Ireland’s energy demand in 2015 was imported, at a cost of €4.6bn (USD 5.79bn). Almost all fuel used in transport in Ireland is imported.
The benefits of CNG, particularly to large energy users, are evident. CNG is cleaner than diesel and other fuels. It delivers up to 22% saving on CO2, 70% less Nitrogen Oxide and 95% less particulate matter. (These latter emissions are particularly highlighted as causing respiratory illness such as asthma.)
CNG delivers fuel cost savings of up to 35% for commercial users. This means that businesses using CNG can not only reduce emissions, they can save money while doing so.
Denis O’Sullivan, Head of Commercial, Gas Networks Ireland: “We are delighted to confirm the approval of funding from the EU Commission for the roll-out of a transformative energy network for Irish commercial road users. Not only will this help fund the development of a network of CNG stations, it is an important vote of confidence in the project.
“The inclusion of a specific provision for the development of a renewable gas injection point will be another important step in transforming the gas network. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and will play a vital role in reducing emissions that cause climate change. Renewable gas will play an even more important role, providing a carbon neutral fuel for the future of our country.”
The EU funding will also include a research element, for which Gas Networks Ireland will work with The National University of Ireland Galway. This study, named the Causeway Study, will investigate the outcome of rolling out Compressed Natural Gas stations in the Irish network. The goal being to further advance the deployment of cleaner fuel technologies.
Gas Networks Ireland is the business division of Ervia that owns, operates and develops the natural gas network in Ireland and connects all customers to the gas network.
(Source: Gas Networks Ireland)