Last update: 25.10.2012
Germany underpins strong role for greening the grid and NGV innovation
The development of Germany's NGV market has been pushed by two main strategic initiatives/policies from the German gas industry and the government: a rapid development of the public CNG filling station network, which already counts more than 900 locations; and secondly, a commitment from the administration to keep reduced tax rates for NG as a vehicle fuel up to 2018. This guarantees that NG as a fuel in Germany remains an economical option. In addition there are several cities giving local incentives for the purchase of NGVs, which have been very well accepted by e.g. driving schools, taxi companies and other professional users.
Mercedes Benz currently offers two CNG passenger car models (incl. the new B-class NGT), VW four models (incl. new up! with natural gas drive), soon VW will offer its fifth model with the introduction of the new Golf VII, and Opel two models. Audi will offer the A3 TCNG from 2013 and the A4 from 2014. Audi promotes CNG via the increased use of e-gas (power to gas), which refers to hydrogen created by electrolysis using energy from renewable sources or substitute natural gas created by methanisation of such hydrogen (production of synthetic natural gas) and storing it in the gas grid. With reference to commercial vehicles, Germany has some 1.200 medium and heavy duty CNG trucks and 1.600 CNG buses, all of them working in urban services. There are also a number of light duty CNG commercial vehicles from Opel, VW and MB.
Germany is pushing the development of CNG as the main and quickest possibility of integrating renewable biomethane and storage of a surplus of renewable electricity from wind or solar in the natural gas grid, the biggest energy storage and distribution system in Europe. But the market is still far from being mature with only 900 filling stations in a market of around 15.000 conventional petrol and diesel retail outlets. To be also considered is that all CNG vehicles are always designed as bi-fuel vehicles with a petrol reserve tank, which is sacrificing efficiency (natural gas fuel has 130 octane).
Germany is the biggest European vehicle market with some 60 million vehicles in total, but to date only 95.000 NGVs. The growth of NGVs is however to be expected to become more dynamic due to the increasingly strong industry commitment on the refuelling and vehicle side. However, public and political support will be crucial if NGVs should step out of a niche market existence.
Biomethane, or Bio natural gas as it is referred to in Germany, is playing an increasingly important role at German petrol stations, reports German association erdgas mobil e.V. In just the first half of 2012, the number of stations where 100 per cent bio-gas can be refueled almost tripled, from 35 to 100. Overall, renewable natural gas is available at just under 230 of the 900 natural gas filling stations in Germany. Having renewable fuel at one in every four natural gas filling stations has contributed to the nationwide fall CO2 emissions from natural gas vehicles, by another 3%.
A map of all available German CNG filling stations, including a radial search function and trip planning possibility can be found on the Erdgas Mobil website.
Declaration of intent to accelerate adoption of natural gas and biomethane in road transport
German initiative for natural gas-based mobility
NGVA Europe... for sustainable mobility