CNG refuelling network expands with DATS 24 station program
Belgium has been a quiet corner of Europe when it comes to natural gas vehicles (NGVs) where there are currently less than 200 of all types of NGVs registered. That is about to change with energy supplier DATS 24 opening and about to open several new compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations, providing increased refuelling infrastructure in Belgium and links into Europe’s growing network of CNG stations. The station project is a collaboration effort between DATS 24 and OrangeGas, which specialises in building and operating natural gas and biogas filling stations.
Belgian energy supplier Electrabel, part of the GDF Suez Group, already operates three commercial filling stations, in Mechelen, Antwerp and Brugge and two other privately owned stations operate within Belgium also . Now DATS 24 Belgium has opened its first public station in Halle, in Belgium’s southwest. DATS 24, the fuel division of the Colruyt Group, says this is just the first of several CNG stations planned for opening over the next three years. Several CNG vehicles were on hand for test drives.
DATS 24 says its next station will open in Antwerp. It commenced cooperation to this end in March last year with the Antwerp Port Authority. The unmanned station, located in the southern part of the port area, in the Vosseschijnstraat, is mainly intended to serve the vehicle fleets of companies located within the port. As such it will complement the existing natural gas filling station in Berchem, which is aimed more at city traffic.
As an environment-conscious fuel supplier DATS 24 is currently investing heavily in compressed natural gas (CNG). This is currently considered to be the most “sustainable” type of fuel, with much lower emissions than conventional fuels, LPG and even electric power. However, CNG is only an intermediate step, as DATS 24 apparently aims to switch to biogas by 2015.
“There are now 50 or so CNG stations in the Netherlands and more than 1,000 in Germany,” said DATS 24 manager Raf Flebus last year. “So it’s high time for us to catch up with our neighbours, especially as large companies in our own country are very enthusiastic. This is certainly the case for our parent company, Colruyt Group, which will soon have an all-CNG fleet of vans for its technical services. In the longer term all its company cars will run on CNG.”
NGVA Europe reports the company is already operating some NGVs, including three Iveco Daily CNGs and one VW Passat Ecofuel.
NGVA Europe set up an office in Brussels in 2010. Resident Communications & EU Affairs Manager, Matthias Maedge, was recently provided a CNG fuelled Fiat Punto Evo Natural Power by NGVA Europe board member Erdgas Mobil. The vehicle is being employed to demonstrate to policy makers and European Commission representatives that compressed natural gas (CNG) and biomethane can provide an alternative to oil-derived fuels right now.
The Fiat Punto Evo Natural Power saves 25% CO2 and has low running costs of less than 4 EUR/100 km. It develops 70 hp in CNG mode and is able to cover a distance of more than 300 km on CNG.