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IEA - The Contribution of Natural Gas Vehicles to Sustainable Transport

22-Oct-2014

Author: Michiel Nijboer, Gas Analyst, Energy Diversification Division, International Energy Agency

Page Count: 84

From the Document:

Key messages:

The number of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and fuel stations has grown very strongly in the past decade and continues to do so, although it is still a niche market, from the perspective of transport (less than 1% of world road fuel consumption) and natural gas markets (less than 1% of world gas demand).

Natural gas can play a significant role in cutting vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, but over the long term there will need to be a commitment to transition to very low CO gas sources, such as biogas or bio-synthetic gas. Natural gas may be especially important for cutting carbon dioxide emissions from heavy duty vehicles (HDVs), since other options such as electrification appear to be limited.

Vehicle and fuel technology for natural gas is available today and relatively affordable, particularly in comparison with other alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs).

Depending on the context, NGV can have strong benefits in different countries including: improving air quality and reducing noise in urban areas; diverting oil from domestic consumption to export; improving energy security; and reducing government spending on road fuel subsidies. Governments should carefully consider the role of NGVs compared to other AFVs, such as electric, fuel cell and biofuel vehicles, and weigh the costs and benefits of each for different modes of transport. In this context, it appears that NGVs may compare favorably in many -- but perhaps not all -- national contexts.

Natural gas can be competitive visàvis gasoline where transmission and distribution grids are present; in countries where this is not the case, there is often an opportunity for simultaneous gas market development and increasing NGV market share. While investments in vehicles and retail infrastructure can generate positive returns, temporary government support may be required to establish an NGV market. Without such support, many countries are unlikely to achieve self-sustaining NGV markets with substantial penetration levels. Investments in grids are likely to take place only where other sectors can also benefit from natural gas supply.