Gas-powered heavy good vehicles (HGVs), powered initially by biomethane and then hydrogen, are key to decarbonising the commercial transport industry, according to an international report launched on Monday.
The report, entitled ‘Future role of gas in transport’, was supported by Gas Networks Ireland and looked at decarbonisation options for the commercial transport sector.
These included the production, distribution and use of electricity, biomethane, bio-substitute natural gas (bio-SNG) and hydrogen to understand the role of each fuel and the timeline for scaling up of their use.
In Ireland, transport remains one of the most difficult areas to decarbonise.
HGVs, such as trucks and buses which currently use diesel, are responsible for approximately 30% of transport emissions, despite representing only 4% of the transport fleet.
The report lays out a road map for the decarbonisation of HGV transport in the UK, beginning with an immediate roll-out of biomethane that would see all compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations supplying renewable gas within a decade.
The same principles apply here in Ireland.
Biomethane is produced from upgrading biogas produced from anaerobic digestion (AD) plants.
There are several AD plants in development in Ireland, which intend on producing biomethane for transport fuel, but the economics of which are generally pivotal on a feed stock gate fee.
Biomethane is considered a key vector in the journey to net-zero.
Hydrogen will likely become more common in the 2030s – possibly by way of blends with natural or renewable gas – with some CNG stations starting to transition to hydrogen in the mid- to late-2030s.
Zero-emission HGVs running on hydrogen would be the norm by 2050, according to the report.
Hydrogen production in Ireland is in its infancy, but the potential is great.
Areas such as the west and northwest, which have high wind energy generation potential, are likely to be the hydrogen production hotspots of Ireland in the near future.
In terms of transport, Ireland and the UK are similar markets, facing many of the same challenges, including both being among a small number of right-hand drive markets, which affects supply of vehicles and speed of roll-out.
If the adoption of gas-powered HGVs is to be encouraged, then support may be needed to assist with the transition.