CNG and BioNGV continue to grow

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The share of vehicles, especially heavy goods vehicles, running on CNG continues to increase in France.

BioNGV is developing all the more rapidly, even if the stakeholders expect better support.

CNG continues to grow. At the end of December 2022, more than 33,000 vehicles were running on CNG or BioNGV in France. This is a 30% increase compared to the previous year, according to figures from the AFGNV (French Association for Natural Gas for Vehicles) presented on 9th February 2023. “For several years now, the sector has been taking action," says Jean-Baptiste Furia, vice-president of the AFGNV. “When we counted 103 public refuelling points in 2018, there were 305 in December 2022, with a forecast of 360 in 2023. And that's without counting the private stations, of which there are about 350."

From left to right: Frédéric Martin (Deputy Managing Director of GRDF), Jean-Baptiste Furia (Vice-President of AFGNV), Clément Chandon (Product Manager Iveco), Christophe Baboin, (Managing Director Viapost Transport Management).

BioNGV is gaining momentum

This is a strong advantage of CNG: an already well-supplied refuelling network, compared to electric vehicles in particular. This is one of the reasons why CNG appeals to heavy goods vehicles. While some 12,500 light vehicles run on this energy in France, there are more than 9,000 heavy goods vehicles (+45% in one year), 7,400 buses and coaches (+158% for coaches) and 2,500 refuse collection vehicles. "Heavy goods vehicles are the best vector for decarbonising road transport”, according to Clément Chandon, product manager, homologation and regulations at Iveco. “90% of road transport can be carried out with CNG, because the technology is proven, particularly in terms of autonomy."

The AFGNV is placing even more emphasis on BioNGV, the "100% renewable version of CNG" through the use of biomethane. Its share has doubled in 2022, reaching 25% of the volumes of fuel gas sold. "When analysing the entire life cycle, the CO2 emissions of a heavy goods vehicle running on BioNGV are more than four times lower than those of CNG, and more than twice as low as those of electric vehicles," explains Frédéric Martin, deputy director general of GRDF. The Association expects NGV to gradually disappear in favour of BioNGV: the objective is 50% by 2025, and 100% by 2033 for the latter.

"The advantages of BioNGV for a transport operator are the CO2 footprint, autonomy, attractiveness for drivers and the large refuelling network", summarises Vincent Lesage, CEO of mobility at Transports Breger.

Eight BioNGV refuelling stations for La Poste

Among the players in the transport world who have seriously considered BioNGV, La Poste has set itself the goal of zero net emissions by 2040. Our roadmap is demanding, but we are moving forward at top speed," says Christophe Baboin, Managing Director of Viapost Transport Management. We have chosen the energy mix, favouring BioNGV over the long term, because the energy and the equipment are available."

The group argues that electric vehicles cannot decarbonise long-distance fleets quickly, that hydrogen has not yet been deployed and that biofuel is only a transitional solution. La Poste has announced the launch of eight BioNGV refuelling stations near its major industrial platforms by 2024-2025. "Without BioNGV in the energy mix, there will be no massive decarbonisation of heavy transport in France," says Christophe Baboin, who nevertheless points to a limit to this energy: price stability. "In these difficult times, the cost of BioNGV has at times been multiplied by ten, while it has at worst doubled for diesel. We will have to stabilise these solutions," he hopes.

More support

Vincent Lesage confirms this limit: "In 2022, if we average out the standard differences between diesel and BioNGV, the latter cost us 33% more in 2022. So we need motivation! We have to do everything we can to make sure our situation is secure."

Support should not stop there, according to Jean-Baptiste Furia, who listed other priorities for 2030: "Immediate compensation of the price of BioNGV at the pump in the event of an inflationary context; subsidy for the purchase of a BioNGV/GNV heavy vehicle to have BioNGV recognised as an alternative fuel in the European regulations texts.”

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