Consumption of natural gas in transport in the Czech Republic in 2019 increased by more than 20% year-on-year to a record 91.3 million cubic meters, reports the Czech Gas Association. Currently, over 25,000 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles run on Czech roads, for which more than 200 filling stations are already available. Last year, liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks appeared in normal operation for the first time.
“Operating costs for CNG cars are about a koruna per kilometer (USD 4 cents). From Prague, you can drive to the sea for a thousand koruna, for example. The purchase price is comparable to conventional drive models. If we add a sufficient network of filling stations and significantly more environmentally friendly operation, it is not surprising that interest in CNG is growing from both companies and ordinary drivers,” said Lenka Kovačovská, Executive Director of the Czech Gas Association (ČPS).
In 2019, 22 new public CNG filling stations were opened and over 2,700 new vehicles were sold. On the Czech market, it is possible to choose from more than 40 models of CNG cars. Among them, the most popular is the Škoda brand, followed by VW and Seat.
The largest public network of CNG stations in the Czech Republic is currently operated by Prague-based Innogy Energo s.r.o. Through its 63 stations, it delivered approximately 11,000 tons of CNG to end users in 2019. “After we fully consolidated the CNG Vital network of fillers within Innogy last year, we plan to put another 3-4 CNG stations into operation this year. We also want to focus more on customers interested in the supply and service of CNG filling technology and the offer of so-called mobile filling stations,” said innogy’s Chairman of the Board, Zdeněk Kaplan.
Bonett Gas Investment, a.s., which is the operator of the second largest network in the Czech Republic with 40 CNG stations, plans to invest up to CZK 250 million (USD 10 million) this year in the development of stations with alternative fuels. “We are considering investments specifically in biomethane. Our goal is to sell at least 15% of renewable fuel at the end of 2020,” said Václav Holovčák, Member of the Board of Bonett Gas Investment. “In addition to the opening of 10 – 15 new CNG stations, we also want to put around 5 LNG stations into operation in the Czech Republic,” he added.
E.ON also wants to open three new CNG stations this year. “We plan to invest approximately CZK 23 million (USD 0.922 million) in infrastructure development this year, and we expect further construction in 2021, when we will exceed 30 CNG stations,” said Martina Slavíková, E.ON’s spokeswoman, adding: “Last year we opened one filling station in Prague. In this way, our customers can easily fill CNG in the capital as well.”
First LNG Station
Last year, the first LNG filling station was also put into full operation and the first five liquefied natural gas trucks were deployed. “The development of LNG in the Czech Republic is good news for everyone who lives in larger cities and close to major roads. This is where freight transport significantly affects air quality. However, compared to conventional diesel engines, these cars produce virtually no harmful emissions of sulfur oxide, nitrogen or particulate matter! Today, there is no other available fuel in the heavy freight segment that would achieve the required combination of high performance and ecological operation,” said L. Kovačovská.
The increase in interest in liquefied natural gas is also confirmed by GasNet, which operates the gas distribution system and LNG technologies tests.
“We are already registering dozens of companies in the Czech Republic that are seriously considering purchasing LNG cars. Along with the development of the infrastructure of LNG stations, we therefore expect a sharp increase in the number of these cars in the fleets of domestic carriers. They are under increasing pressure from contracting authorities to ensure more environmentally friendly transport,” said Filip Dostál, Director of Business Development at GasNet, adding that the development of LNG technologies in the Czech Republic will largely depend on the introduction of support for infrastructure construction and the purchase of LNG vehicles in alignment with Western European countries.
CNG: Compressed Natural Gas is suitable for passenger transport, light commercial vehicles, buses or city service vehicles. CNG is characterized by extremely low emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and carcinogenic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the components with the worst impact on human health that conventional cars produce. They are thus fully comparable to electric cars. The added value of CNG cars compared to diesel or petrol cars is also half the operating costs.
LNG: Liquefied Natural Gas is especially suitable for heavy freight transport. LNG vehicles offer a range of more than 1000 km and reduced carbon dioxide by 15%, emissions of sulfur oxide by up to 100%, nitrogen oxides by up to 90% and particulate matter by up to 99%. LNG cars also run the engine quieter by up to 9 dB compared to diesel. This offers them better access to city centres, where entry restrictions may apply due to noise and emission standards. They are therefore also suitable for night unloading of goods.