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EU Member States and legislators could do much more to encourage the spread of alternative fuels, Brussels expert group says
tuesday, 22. September 2015
EU member states should ensure that users of vehicles on alternative fuels, like natural gas and biomethane, can travel throughout the European Union unhampered by any gaps in the infrastructure of the fuel of their choice. Member states should also give vehicles on alternative fuels a range of financial and other incentives to promote their use.
Other possible measures to encourage the spread and use of alternative fuels are more stringent CO2 targets by 2030, tougher legislation on air pollution and more ambitious obligations for public procurement to accept vehicles on alternative fuels.
These are some of the central recommendations from the third report of the Expert Group of Future Transport Fuels (EG FTF), to which NGVA Europe contributed and that was published by the European Commission in July 2015. The stakeholder Expert Group on Future Transport Fuels was set up in March 2010 to provide advice to the Commission on the development of political strategies and specific actions to substitute oil with sustainable fuels like natural gas and biomethane.
Apart from vastly expanding the infrastructure for alternative fuels – to which the member states are obliged under the Directive Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (DAFI) that was adopted last year - the expert group thinks that on the whole Member States should do much more to promote alternative fuels for transport. These incentives could very well be financial, for example tax exemptions for the vehicles and fuels concerned, but equally important is non-financial encouragement, the experts write. Helpful measures on the side of governments could be promotional campaigns to encourage the use of alternative fuels, to improve the public perception of safety of the fuels concerned and to inform the public of the locations of refuelling points.
The expert group stated in 2011 that ,,alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to gradually substituting fossil energy sources’’, and asserted that ,,there is no single candidate for fuel substitution. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will most likely require the use of a mix of fuels, which can be produced from a large variety of primary energy sources’’ , including natural gas and biomethane.
In a second report later that year the EG FTF, which has recently been transformed into the Sustainable Transport Forum of which NGVA Europe is member, pointed out that a lack of infrastructure for alternative fuels seriously hindered their development, a conclusion that ultimately lead to the adoption of the Directive Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (DAFI) in 2014, which obliges member states to plan and subsequently implement an infrastructure for alternative fuels.
In its third report, published last July, the EG FTF, provides an update on alternative fuels, in particular also their acceptance by markets, providing important information to member states preparing their so-called National Policy Frameworks – roadmaps for the implementation alternative fuels - under the DAFI.
The expert writes that EU legislators should establish a framework of policies at EU level for fair treatment of alternative fuel vehicles to avoid market fragmentation.
,,The Commission and Member States’’, the expert group writes, ‘’should support alternative fuels production, alternative fuels transport systems and the relevant infrastructures, whilst respecting the principle of technology neutrality. In particular, support is needed to reduce risk for investors in bringing the technology to a commercial scale. In this respect the usefulness of dedicated financial instruments should be investigated, including for alternative fuels commercial vehicles.”
The industry is recommended to create sustainable business models with the aim of building investor confidence in the market, reducing the early financial risks for stakeholders (alternative fuels suppliers, OEMs, alternative fuels refuelling operators).
Member states should also use other financial (and non-financial) incentives to vehicles with low carbon-emissions and low regulated air emission (PM, NOX, HC and CO) during the market introduction phase (bonuses for low-emission vehicles, tax exemptions for company cars, no tax on alternative fuels, reserved highway lanes, free or reduced public parking prices, among other possible measures.
Member states must in any case define appropriate national targets and objectives in their National Policy Frameworks for the implementation of the Directive Alternative Fuels Infrastructure. These national targets and objectives should ensure a minimum infrastructure of alternative fuels to guarantee EU-wide mobility with alternative fuel vehicles taking account the specific needs of isolated and/or rural areas.
The EG FTF recommends that EU legislators should review the Directive on the Promotion of Clean and Energy Efficient Road Transport Vehicles (2009/33/EC) to impose more ambitious obligations on public procurers (the Directive requires public authorities, contracting entities and operators under a public service contract to take into account vehicles' operating lifetime energy and environmental impacts when procuring road transportation vehicles). Public procurements could include a quantified percentage of alternative fuels vehicles in any public tendering to stimulate the market. Moreover, a double labelling could also be included informing of the price of vehicles, one indicating the market price and a second one taking into account the external costs as monetised in the Directive.
EU legislators should also consider the feasibility to establish a stricter CO2 target by 2030 than the target of 95 g CO₂/km as average emissions for the new car fleet established in Regulation (EC) No 443/2009, setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the Community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light duty vehicles. Setting CO2 emission performance standards for heavy duty vehicles should be further assessed.
And EU legislators should consider to what extent external costs are already taken into account in the different modes of transport and consider the effectiveness of current and potential new EU legislation in this respect. The costs of infrastructure's wear and tear, congestion, noise, and air pollution could be ‘internalised’ through distance-based user charges, e.g. road tolls or track access charges in the rail sector. With regard to the costs of climate change, two main market-based instruments could be used: energy taxation and/or emission trading systems. These instruments would also influence the emissions caused by the existing car ‘fleet’, taking into account that the regulation of new car emissions has only limited effect on overall emissions from the transport sector.
EU legislators should also consider the inclusion of biomethane as a clean alternative fuel via a compliance mechanism under the possible amendment of the Fuel Quality Directive
The EGE FTF furthermore thinks that the EU commission should be guided by the principle of EU-wide harmonization where in concern alternative fuels. All national differences (taxation, incentives, fuel standards) must be avoided to achieve integrity of the common market.
The EU commission should also elaborate guidance documents to facilitate Member States with the drafting of their National Policy Frameworks and come up with a common methodology for alternative fuels unit price comparison as soon as possible.
Implementation of an enlarged LNG Blue Corridors project. The next step should be the implementation of LNG as a commercial truck fuel through a technology support package for stations and vehicles, as well as a much stronger support of bigger fleets of heavy duty vehicles and delivery vans in existing transport hubs and specific areas of high demand. Create CNG Blue Corridor with the focus on light commercial vehicles and medium and heavy delivery trucks http://www.ngvaeurope.eu/eu-member-states-and-legislators-could-do-much-more-to-encourage-the-spread-of-alternative-fuels-brussels-expert-group-says