Use of gaseous fuels in transport

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This discussion paper sets out the case for the UK to have a clear strategy and policy support for the use of gaseous fuels in transport. The paper summarises discussions within the REA’s working Group on Gaseous Fuels in Transport, which was formed following members’ participation in the Department for Transport’s ‘Transport Energy Taskforce’, in particular WG 5 on Advanced Fuels. A list of the members of the RTFG Working Group can be found at Appendix IV. This paper primarily focuses on methane as a vehicle fuel, and especially methane from renewable sources. It should be noted that throughout this paper and the Working Group discussions, ‘biomethane from renewable sources’ is interpreted to mean biomethane derived from ‘waste’ feedstocks (those in Annex IX Part A of the “ILUC“ Directive (EU) 2015/1513 of 9 September 20152). A much larger amount of biomethane could be produced if crops are used for anaerobic digestion, as has happened in Germany, but this brings with it sustainability issues such as ‘food vs fuel’, indirect land use change and soil impacts. There are two other gaseous fuels that can be used in transport – liquid petroleum gas (abbreviated to LPG, this is mostly propane) and hydrogen. Like methane, both propane and hydrogen can be obtained from fossil or renewable sources. Renewable LPG, or ‘biopropane’ is now coming into the UK market in relatively small but significant quantities. As there is an existing fleet of LPG vehicles in the UK, and a fuelling infrastructure, this biopropane is an easily deployed drop-in fuel that achieves excellent greenhouse gas (GHG) savings. Provided the feedstock meets the sustainability criteria of EU and UK legislation, including the uses of crop-based vegetable oil, there are no significant policy barriers to its deployment. It is not considered further in this document, but extra detail supplied by Neste and Calor is provided in Appendix V. Hydrogen is also, of course, a gaseous fuel that can be produced by renewable means and used in transport. However, methane vehicles are widely deployed around the world, and the UK has an extremely well-developed methane distribution infrastructure, meaning that methane, and renewable methane, are very much current technology. Hydrogen, by contrast, has yet to solve a number of technical problems and/or bring its costs down to a level approaching current alternatives, so its widespread deployment is still some way off and difficult to predict. The Working Group has not therefore entered into speculation into hydrogen’s place, and it is not considered in this paper.