On February 14, 2023, the European Commission published its proposal to review Regulation EU 2019/1242 setting carbon dioxide emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles in the EU. While the European Biogas Association (EBA) welcomes the increased ambitions of the proposal, it regrets the choice of the Commission not to recognize the contribution of renewable fuels and calls on the European Parliament and Council to provide a level playing field for the deployment of all clean technologies.
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On February 14, 2023, the European Commission published its proposal to review Regulation EU 2019/1242 setting carbon dioxide (CO2) emission performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) in the EU.
According to the EBA, this piece of EU legislation is fundamental for the decarbonization of the HDV segment and for supporting the development of all the technologies contributing to the shift towards zero- and low-emission mobility.
As acknowledged by the European Commission, the decarbonization of the transport sector will have to rely on multiple and complementary solutions to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while responding to all mission profiles.
Sustainable and renewable fuels, such as biomethane aka renewable natural gas – RNG, are part of the current alternatives to cut down emissions, given their readiness and compatibility with existing vehicles including HDVs and refueling infrastructure.
EBA says that it “praises the increased ambitions of the proposal, but regrets the choice of the Commission not to recognize the contribution of renewable fuels, including biomethane, to the decarbonization of the sector.”
The EU executive body has missed the opportunity to provide a strong positive signal to the biomethane value chain by setting stringent targets at the tailpipe without providing a mechanism to factor in the contribution of renewable fuels in reducing overall CO2 emissions across the lifecycle of the vehicle, the EBA highlighted.
Technology agnostic legislative framework
Instead, transport operators and vehicle manufacturers should be provided with a legislative framework that encourages them to consider cleaner fuel alternatives to fossil fuels immediately available today.
Biomethane can play an important role to de-risk the uncertainties linked to the development and uptake of other transport technologies.
This renewable gas is essential to promote and preserve the EU’s strategic autonomy in the energy sector and its technological leadership, all activities creating sustainable jobs in Europe.
While only accounting for 2 percent of the vehicles on the road in Europe, the heavy-duty sector alone generates around 6 percent of total GHG emissions in the EU: a major contribution to climate change. The use of biomethane for transport provides a sustainable and readily available and scalable alternative to fossil fuels, being a key player in the transition towards a climate-neutral economy, explained Giulia Cancian, Secretary General of the EBA.
Fully compatible and interchangeable
As biomethane (RNG) consists of the same molecule as natural gas, this renewable fuel can be directly used either in the form of bioCNG or bioLNG to serve as a transport fuel in natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and injected in the existing liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling infrastructure.
This means that biomethane can concretely and immediately contribute to the decarbonization of the transport sector.
The deployment of biomethane to replace fossil fuels does not require the investment in additional resources and time to develop new infrastructure.
Moreover, recent studies show that bioCNG and bioLNG are the best-performing fuels for decarbonizing transport, outperforming even electric vehicles (EVs) thanks to their potential to offer a negative carbon footprint when applying a “Well-to-Wheel” (WtW) methodology.
Using a 40 percent bioLNG mix with LNG will help reduce the CO2 emissions from trucks by 55 percent, under the WtW perspective. When using 100 percent bioLNG, the GHG emissions balance can even be negative.
The upcoming discussions within European Parliament and Council will be a precious opportunity to provide a level playing field for their further deployment of all technologies and renewable fuels, and the EBA counts on the co-legislators to pursue this agenda, the statement said.