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Networking on Natural Gas Vehicles
Is LNG the future for long distance road transport and shipping? Liquified Natural Gas – LNG - is predicted to be one of the new buzz words in alternative fuels. But haulage companies are worried about prices of gas compared to diesel. Shipping companies worry about big refitting costs. The gas providers are ready and waiting. Is everyone biding their time for governments or the EU to take a stand? 15 hand picked participants joined forces in a network meeting to look for a clear path forward and agreed on meeting again.

Photo:Green STRING Corridor

Natural Gas for the win

 

Natural Gas. It's already a steady commodity and used in many countries for heating and cooking. The infrastructure and supply chains are already there. Sweden has taken the plunge and now has 50 trucks running on LNG, with 20 more on the way, and yes, a main driver in this process is a well known Swedish Truck Company beginning with a "V". An infrastructure with five filling stations and a government endorsing Natural Gas helps the movement along the way, of course.

 

The network meeting took place on the 16th of May in Copenhagen and was organized as part of the Green STRING Corridor project. Some relevant questions were: What are the barriers for a more substantial shift towards gas? And how can we share our experiences regarding LNG - or even LBG (Liquified Bio Gas) - and move further when it comes to alternative energy for heavy transport?

 

A representative from Køge municipality - a Zealand municipality with a well situated harbor and a large transportation centre housing, among others, distribution warehouses for the supermarket chains such as Netto and LIDL - sat next to Head of Environment, quality and safety for Malmö Lastbilcentral AB who is heavily involved in LNG trucks already. A senior Mechanical Engineer from DFDS Seaways sat next to the Environmental Manager from the City of Copenhagen. Naturally, the large Danish shipping company was concerned about the impending EU Directive limiting the sulphur content of fuels used by vessels from 2015 in the Baltic and North Sea, but gas didn't seem to be the solution for now.

 

Copenhagen's cafés and DFDS's 50 ships

 

"To retrofit our fleet of ships would mean a massive investment", says Allan Grodin of DFDS A/S. "The refitting will not only diminish our motor efficiency, it would also mean taking out cargo space to hold the large tanks for the gas. For now we find it difficult to see LNG as a retrofit solution. We have tried to make the business cases work, but the overall investment costs and delivery cost of LNG are simply too high as it looks right now".

 

As Denmark's capitol city, Copenhagen City is very interested in greener transport within the city area to minimize particle pollution - and noise pollution, too. Both low levels of particles and noise are benefits CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and LNG vehicles are renowned for. They are especially suited when it comes to the heavier trucks that have to drive longer trips, as smaller vans work well on electricity for shorter distances. Gas could be ideal transporting goods and commodities to the city's many restaurants, cafés and hotels, as much of this is brought in from warehouses and transportation centers. Waste management is yet an example that would be an obvious candidate for gas vehicles.

 

 LNG workshop 2

Photo: Green STRING Corridor

 

Diesel-Denmark

 

Bent Erik Hawaleska from the German owned E.ON (E.ON Denmark), one of the world's largest energy companies supplying approximately 35 million European customers with electricity, natural gas, biogas and district heating, naturally, had an interest in selling Natural Gas to both maritime transport and heavy freight transport. He was able to make a very short lay of the land:

 

"Diesel in Denmark is so highly favored by governmental duties that many foreign trucks fill up on fuel as soon as they hit Danish soil and before leaving the country. So the initiative to make a change for alternative fuels is relatively low compared to neighboring Sweden. On the other hand the maritime transportation in Denmark is moving much faster: Take for example the two ferries from Hirtshals to Norway on LNG and now the ferry to and from Samsø."

 

 The Senior Advisor from E.ON didn't quite understand the hesitation in Denmark.

 

"Denmark has many advantages regarding LNG. It has an extensive grid already, it has many harbours - and the total distances are relatively short. And in terms of making gas vehicles even greener, Denmark is a clear-cut candidate for mixing LNG with LBG. With 25 million pigs, and their liquid manure, the potential for biogas is huge."

 

Next Step:

 

Upon closing of the networking event the participants all agreed that there is a need to make more business cases and that one option could be to apply for funds from, for instance, The Danish Council for Strategic Research as they have a joint call with The Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (EDDP).

 

Together the two institutions offer a total of 25 million DKK to a special effort with the aim to support research, development and demonstration within energy efficient transport. These discussions are still being undertaken when this article was written.

 

The networking event was arranged by:

 

Roskilde University

Lund University

The Transport Innovation Network

Green STRING Corridor

 

By Anine Asklund