NGV : A fast-growing, environmentally-friendly fuel

Atmospheric pollution, environmental protection, the scarcity of fossil energies and rising cost of traditional fuels are all forcing the transport sector to develop alternatives to fossil fuels that are healthier and more environmentally friendly. 

One such fuel, CNG (Natural Gas for Vehicles) has seen considerable growth. Tailored specifically for freight transport, passenger transport and waste collection, some 20 million vehicles around the world now run on NGV. France alone has 14,000 NGV vehicles.

Convinced of the major benefits of NGV and particularly those of the renewable BioNGV version, GRDF is working alongside public authorities, sector players (construction companies, compressor specialists and energy operators) and local authorities to develop this fuel gas.

What is NGV/BioNGV ?

NGV (Natural Gas for Vehicles) is used as a fuel. It is the same as the gas used for heating and cooking. NGV exists in two states: liquefied (LNG) and compressed (CNG). N.B. It should not be confused with LPG : Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

BioNGV is biomethane used as a fuel. 
Biomethane is a 100% renewable gas produced by fermenting biowaste. It has the same qualities as natural gas and can be used as a fuel: called BioNGV.

NGV/BioNGV, a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative

NGV reduces nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) and fine particle emissions by up to 50% and 95% less, respectively, than the new EURO VI standard, confirmed by measurements taken under real conditions.

The renewable BioNGV version is virtually carbon-neutral since the amount of CO2 emitted from the tailpipe is equivalent to the CO2 absorbed by methanized plants.

The annual waste of 7,000 inhabitants could run a BioNGV bus for one year. NGV/BioNGV vehicles are also, on average, half as noisy, improving the work conditions of drivers and quality of life for residents. In figures, the benefits are clear, with reductions of up to 11dB, presenting the possibility of night deliveries in urban areas.

Lastly, NGV’s low cost helps vehicle fleet owners to amortize their investment quickly.

Local authorities : public transport and waste collection vehicles run on NGV

NGV has been a reality for France’s local authorities for a long time. Two-thirds of cities with over 200,000 inhabitants have opted for clean energy vehicles, running their fleets of buses on fuel gas.

In Paris, 20% of the city’s RATP buses will run on NGV by 2025.
In France, around 300 buses and more than 1,200 household waste trucks run on NGV. Some local authorities have gone even further, running their fleets of light utility vehicles on NGV (Aix-en-Provence) or building partnerships to develop the use of this alternative fuel. The Ile-de-France and Grand Lyon regions, for example, have co-signed sustainable mobility charters.

The private sector is also switching to NGV

Haulage contractors and companies that use delivery services face the same health and environmental challenges as local authorities. They too are looking for solutions to reduce their environmental impact, perpetuate their business models and improve their image.

The large-retail sector has now embarked on its own energy transition : Monoprix, Ikea and Carrefour are some of the growing number of retailers who run their delivery trucks on fuel gas. Transport specialists, including La Poste, Exapaq and Geodis, also have clean energy vehicles.

NGV in Europe

In 2014, the Council of the European Union adopted the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (AFI) Directive to promote transport energy transition across Europe and reduce the region’s dependence on oil.

The Directive requires each Member State to establish a national framework to develop alternative fuels and deploy recharging infrastructures by 2020.

Some European countries such as Italy, Germany and Sweden had already invested in NGV before the European Directive.

NGV in the EU, in figures :

  • In Italy, there are more than 970,000 NGV vehicles and over 1,000 refueling stations. NGV was adopted in Italy after the first oil crisis in 1973, with encouragement from the Government.
  • Germany, which adopted NGV in 2003, has set the following objective by 2020: 1.4 million clean energy vehicles, create fuels that contain at least 20% biomethane and develop a network of 1,300 public stations.
  • In Sweden, more than 60% of vehicles run on BioNGV.