Biomethane can speed up decarbonisation in road transport: That’s the conclusion of a new study from the Gas Distribution Networks.
Published to inform government’s upcoming Decarbonising Transport Plan, the report says that green gas Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) hold the key to decarbonising our roads – but transition must start now to achieve net zero by 2050.
This Report is the culmination of a Network Innovation Allowance funded project overseen by a steering group comprising the UK and Ireland gas network operators (Cadent, Gas Networks Ireland, National Grid, Northern Gas Networks, SGN, Wales and West) and managed by Element Energy.
The report is a “welcome addition to the growing body of information on gas as a transport fuel, and the opportunities that it offers to the decarbonisation of transport,” says the Gas Vehicle Network (GVN).
The Gas networks report sets out pathway to net zero for HGV vehicles, and has been welcomed by Transport Minister Rachel Maclean MP.
The detailed 62-page Future Role of Gas in Transport report sets out a clear pathway showing how the UK’s heavy goods sector can start to achieve a significant reduction in emissions in the next few years. The use of hydrogen is critical to achieving net zero.
The sector is responsible circa 20 million metric tonnes of CO2 annually. By switching HGVs to green gases, including biomethane, bio-CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), and hydrogen, emissions could be reduced by up to 38% by 2030.
The report calls for:
- Hydrogen to be seen as a key decarbonation option in transport, heat and industry in order to achieve effective scale in production and distribution to bring down costs.
- A ramping up of rollout of biomethane and bio-SNG (Substitute Natural Gas) production capacity to realise the full feedstock potential before direct demand for these fuels’ peaks in the 2030s.
- Existing gas networks to be harnessed to deliver hydrogen fuel to heat, industry and transport.
Key milestones to delivery of a national hydrogen refuelling infrastructure by 2050 are set out in the report:
- Acceleration of biomethane production capacity and the scaling of bio-SNG (Synthetic Natural Gas) production.
- First 100 – 200 hydrogen HGVs demonstrated and industrial hydrogen production underway.
- Localised hydrogen blending in the grid and trials of 100% hydrogen grids in very small regions to demonstrate suitability for heating.
- Achieve full utilisation of biomethane feedstocks and expansion of Bio-SNG production capacity, alongside full national coverage of CNG/LNG refuelling stations for HGVs.
- Rapid ramp up in hydrogen HGV manufacturing capacity and rollout of basic station network in order to support very rapid market transition from 2030.
- Hydrogen blending in the network increases and 100% hydrogen trials expand to deliver the first hydrogen town.
- CNG/LNG HGV sales begin to fall and are replaced by hydrogen HGVs.
- Early CNG/LNG stations start to be upgraded to dispense biomethane and hydrogen.
- Hydrogen blended into the gas network across the country and multiple hydrogen towns/cities are achieved.
2035 – 2040
- The sale of diesel and biomethane fuelled trucks ends having been made possible by the rapid conversion of CNG/LNG filling stations to hydrogen.
- Gas pipelines will be delivering 100% hydrogen to large clusters around the country.
2040 – 2045
- A new milestone is reached as transition of the gas network to deliver hydrogen for use in most of our homes and transport becomes reality.
- Zero-emission HGVs are now the norm – we are close to long-haul HGVs running on hydrogen.
Transport Minister Rachel Maclean MP says: “Last year, the Prime Minster set out an ambitious ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution, and decarbonising transport is a key pillar of this.
“It’s essential that we tackle emissions from the road freight sector, not only to meet our net zero target, but also to create and secure skilled jobs and investment, right across the UK.
“This is why I want to see the UK at the forefront of developing cost-effective, zero-emission HGVs and their refuelling infrastructure, as we build back greener.”
Dr Angie Needle, Director of Strategy at Cadent says: “Hydrogen is an important component of how we reach net zero for transport.
“There are emissions savings we are making today from bio CNG that not only help to decarbonise HGV transport here and now but enable a hydrogen future.
“It is critical that Government recognises the role that green gas will play in decarbonising transport.”
Mike Foster, Head of External Affairs, GVN says: “HGVs have historically been a blind spot for all political parties. Studies such as this week’s Future Role of Gas in Transport report reinforce the benefits and opportunities available from using biomethane as a fuel for these vehicles.”
“Transport is the single largest sector for carbon emissions so we all know it needs to be decarbonised more rapidly for us to meet the Net-Zero 2050 objectives. Gas as a transport fuel offers the greatest potential for heavier and long-haul applications which we know, are also the most difficult to decarbonise.”
“The report states that ‘transition must start now to achieve Net-Zero by 2050’. What are we waiting for? The infrastructure is being expanded and take up by fleet operators is growing year on year. There is no other sector of the UK economy where large CO₂ emissions cuts can be so quickly and cost-effectively implemented as that of HGVs and in particular the heavy duty long-distance truck sector.”
“GVN will continue to work with the Department for Transport, DfT, to recognise the enormous potential of biomethane, not only to bring down carbon emissions but also to offer negative greenhouse gas emissions which are achieved with green renewable gases.”
Download the report The Future Role of Gas in Transport below: