Photo: Solaris Bus & Coach.

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CNG and LNG, or compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas are some of the most used alternative fuels used in transport.

Both are gaining ground, although they are still a far cry from the popularity of traditional liquid fuels made from crude oil, such as diesel or petrol. In comparison with those, an undoubted advantage of CNG and LNG is their eco-friendliness and low emissions. With methane as their main ingredient, exhaust fumes, dust emissions and dangerous nitrogen oxides reduced thanks to CNG/LNG. Moreover, both are relatively quiet and cheap.

CNG is used mainly in passenger cars, trucks, buses and agricultural and construction machinery. LNG, on the other hand, is primarily used to power large trucks and buses. Liquefied gas is also gaining popularity in railways and shipping.

Among the most important disadvantages of both these alternative fuels low popularity worldwide. As a result, the number of stations where CNG or LNG can be obtained is very small, as is the number of commercially available vehicles adapted to their combustion. Also, it is relatively expensive to retrofit vehicles powered by traditional fuels.

 

The EU’s ambitious plans

Despite the existing barriers, the CNG and LNG market is growing systematically. Its growth is supported in particular by EU institutions, which are vitally interested in the growing importance of alternative fuels in transport. This is a consequence of the implementation of the ambitious policy which envisions the EU’s complete climate neutrality by 2050.

One of the intermediate objectives is to build at least 1 million public electric vehicle charging stations and refuelling points for alternative fuels by 2025. This goal is not easy to accomplish, as can be seen from what has happened to-date. Data from the European Alternative Fuels Observatory, an initiative funded by the European Commission, shows that 224.2 thousand electric vehicle charging points were available in the EU last year. The network of alternative fuel stations looks less promising. This refers in particular to CNG and LNG refuelling points, of which there were respectively: 3 642 and 332. The largest number of the former can be found in Italy, Germany and Czech Republic, and the latter in Italy, Spain and France.