Transport cleanly with gas

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied biogas (LBG) are clean and price-stable fuels for tractor units used in heavy-duty road transport. The use of LNG reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20% compared with fossil diesel on life cycle analysis. LBG reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%.

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Heavy-duty vehicles to join the fight against climate change

Heavy-duty vehicles are set to enable a more environment-friendly world. According to a legislative proposal from the European Commission, the average CO2 emissions of new heavy-duty vehicles have to be 15% lower in 2025 than in 2019. This progress will continue: in 2030, emissions have to be at least 30% lower. At the same time, national emission reduction targets are guiding countries towards significant emission cuts in the transport sector. What is the new direction of heavy-duty vehicles – and how can this sector move towards a carbon neutral future?

Last spring revealed interesting developments for those who keep an eye on issues related to transport and the environment. In May, the European Commission published a proposal that aims to cut the carbon emissions of heavy-duty vehicles, which was not that surprising.

What was unexpected, on the other hand, was that this was the first time in history that mandatory CO2 emission targets were set for heavy-duty transport. However, emission reduction targets for passenger cars have been in place for many years now.

This decision was influenced by the dedication of Juncker's commission to lead the energy and environment politics of the EU towards a more ambitious direction. The EU has committed to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% by 2030 when compared to 1990 levels.

The biggest hindrance in reaching this goal is road transport. It is the only sector that has not been able to reduce emissions – in fact, between 1990 and 2015, emissions have increased instead.

So, there is a lot of catching up to do. According to Jukka Metsälä, Vice President, Biogas Business Unit, at Gasum, the environment targets that are set for transport are so bold that all means are necessary.

"Since Finland is a country of long distances, we need to find clean solutions for road transport in all segments," states Metsälä.

Decisions on future investments are being made right now

Metsälä says the Commission's proposal regarding emission limits for heavy-duty vehicles is a concrete action that sets a clear direction for all. It sends a signal to the markets that any future investments must take carbon dioxide emissions into account.

"With heavy-duty vehicles, options are limited. Liquified natural gas (LNG) is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions, no matter the working radius of a tractor unit," explains Metsälä.

When looking at the entire emissions of road transport, the share of heavy-duty vehicles is significant. According to the European Environment Agency, heavy-duty vehicles are responsible for over a quarter of road transport's CO2 emissions within the EU.

"LNG and liquified bio gas (LBG) offer a solution to the sector where energy consumption is the greatest. If heavy-duty road transport and construction site transport would switch to liquified gas, it would not only reduce emissions. It would also improve the air quality of big city areas since neither LNG nor LBG produce any small particles that affect respiratory air," Metsälä points out.

The raw materials that are used in biogas production come from a wide range of biodegradable feedstocks, such as biowaste, industrial sludge, livestock manure and food processing waste. At the same time, biogas production is also a part of circular economy since nutrient residues from biogas production are utilised as fertilizers in fields. LBG enables an emission reduction of as much as 85%, which sets up a ready path towards carbon neutral heavy-duty transport.

"During the last few years, Gasum has brought LNG to provide to the needs of the manufacturing industry as well as the maritime industry. At the moment, the organisation is determinedly working to expand the LNG and LBG gas refuelling infrastructure for heavy-duty transport in Finland, Sweden and Norway. This means tens of new gas filling stations during the next few years. Now is the time to lay the playing field for cleaner fuels," says Metsälä.

In the Commission's proposal, the next goalpost is in 2025. That is seven years into the future, but the decisions and investments that affect it are being made right now.

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