Recent study considers biomethane cars as the best transportation option to preserve air quality

The decarbonisation of transport is a major concern to limit the environmental and climate impact of the sector. The European Environmental Agency (EEA) has warned against the increase of CO2 emissions of new passenger cars since 2017 and recalls that the transport sector remains a significant source of air pollution. A recent study of IFPEN shows that the biogas sector is part of the solution to reach climate-neutrality in transportation.

The IFPEN study, conducted by IFP Energies Nouvelles in France, reveals that light vehicles running on biomethane are better for the climate than other technologies. The study compares the carbon footprint of the entire life cycle of compressed natural gas (CNG) and biomethane vehicles to that of diesel, gasoline and electric vehicles and it concludes that biomethane is the best transportation option to preserve air quality.

This research anticipates the intention of the European Commission to evaluate in 2023 “the possibility of developing a common Union method for the evaluation of CO2 emissions throughout the life cycle of these vehicles “. At present, the EU has agreed to reduce the average CO2 emissions from new cars by 15% in 2025 and by 37.5% in 2030. These standards measure the emissions produced by car usage (Tank-to-Wheel), but do not consider the full the carbon footprint of the vehicles (Well-to-Wheel). This becomes very relevant when we compare the emissions from different types of low-carbon vehicles. Electric vehicles, for instance, would be carbon neutral from a Tank-toWheel perspective, but the results are different with a Well-to-Wheel measurement, as the IFPEN study shows.

However, the same study points out the need for further biomethane upscale. The current capacity in France can only supply 100,000 to 150,000 vehicles. As a mid-term solution, the study recommends a mix of GNV and biomethane (bioGNV) (60% -40%) up to 2030, which would power vehicles with a climate impact equivalent to that of an electric car.

“The EEA and many other organisations are highlighting the urgency to decrease CO2 emissions from the transport sector. We have a responsibility towards the environment and our society, and we need to consider every option to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Renewable gas, together with various other renewable sources and low-carbon technologies, must all be part of the solution. The development and upscaling of these technologies will need a holistic, technology-neutral and long-term legislative framework to make this development possible” explains Susanna Pflüger, Secretary General of the EBA.

MORE INFORMATION: IPFEN Study: “Life cycle analysis (LCA) of vehicles running on NGV and bioGNV