Ireland could reduce its commercial fuel bill and substantially cut transport emissions by introducing a network of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations, the operator of Ireland’s gas network told an Oireachtas Committee today.
Gas Networks Ireland told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport that it is seeking to develop a network of 70 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations around Ireland in order to reduce substantially Ireland’s transport emissions. There are 1.8 million CNG vehicles elsewhere in Europe, and Ireland has fallen behind many other countries in the introduction of this technology.
“Transport accounts for more than a quarter (26.3%) of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, and just 3% of vehicles on Ireland’s roads produce 30% of those emissions”, according to Gas Networks Ireland Managing Director, Liam O’Sullivan. “These include buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), almost all of which could be converted to compressed natural gas, thus producing 22% less CO2 than diesel.”
Gas Networks Ireland intends to develop three CNG filling stations in 2016. It today called on the Government to develop a national policy for the development of CNG in Ireland and to incentivise fleet owners to convert to CNG.
Mr O’Sullivan said: “If Ireland were to convert just half the national bus and HGV fleets to Compressed Natural Gas there would be a fuel cost saving of €524m and an emissions saving of 165,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. By using renewable gas, the emissions level from the same vehicles would fall by 2,000,000 tonnes per year.”
Government funding and cross-departmental support are needed to bring this about, according to Gas Networks Ireland. Fleet operators must be incentivised to convert from diesel vehicles to CNG for major fleets of HGV trucks and public transport vehicles, as these vehicles typically cost 10% more than the equivalent diesel vehicles, a cost that is recouped over time through cheaper fuel costs. The 2014 Budget introduced a favourable excise duty treatment for CNG, but favourable VRT and motor tax treatment would also incentivise conversion.
Gas Networks Ireland has already conducted successful trials of CNG vehicles with Bus Éireann, and has already begun to convert some of its own fleet to CNG. Gas Networks Ireland recently introduced five CNG Volkswagen Caddys into their fleet and has Ireland’s first fast-fill CNG station at its office in Cork.
A CNG fuelled commercial vehicle can be refuelled in just five minutes, similar to filling time for a diesel vehicle. The range of a large CNG powered van is 650km – comfortably covering a return journey from Dublin to Cork.
“The development of this future-proofed infrastructure will allow us to make an immediate impact on our transport emissions. It will also support the growth of renewable gas, further reducing our emissions. A progressive national policy on CNG will incentivise fleet operators to convert from diesel or petrol vehicles to CNG for all major fleets of HGV trucks and public transport buses. A VRT and motor tax treatment should also be implemented to support low emission vehicles (similar to EVs).”
Importantly Gas Networks Ireland sees CNG working in partnership with electric vehicles to reduce emissions, rather than competing with each other, he went on.“Electric vehicles make sense for the private/family car market while CNG is the ideal, indeed only viable alternative for fleet operators of commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses – a perfect synergy.”
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