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Natural Gas Preferred to Traditional Fuels Concludes Belgian Study

The Belgian energy regulator CREG has found that natural gas, either compressed or liquefied, is an economic alternative to petrol or diesel in cars or vans; for lorries, LNG needs some form of subsidy as the vehicles cost €30,000-€45,000 more to buy.

The current business case is positive for compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles, provided that enough kilometres are covered and that regional support measures (purchase premiums) are considered, the Dutch/French-language report says. 

For passenger cars and vans, the fuel cost of CNG is about 70% lower than that of fossil fuels, considering a lower price at the pump and lower consumption. Moreover, the fuel price of CNG is like that of electricity.  

Belgium itself is not uniform either: Wallonia offers natural gas car buyers a €500 discount while Flanders offers a more attractive €250/yr. tax discount. But overall the country is missing the targets both for filling stations and for natural gas vehicles (NGVs). By 2020 it was to have built 333 stations servicing 42,500 vehicles, according to a directive on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure.

But the country only has 107 CNG stations and seven LNG stations. It now hopes to achieve that goal by 2020-2-25, it said. 

Last year about 5,000 NGVs were registered in Belgium, of which 4,000 were cars; and of that total, only a fraction of percent had been retrofitted, the rest being assembly-line built. That compares with the 4,000 electric vehicles that were registered in 2018, said CREG.

NGVs emit only a fifth or a tenth of the particulates that diesel or petrol vehicles emit, and CREG said that from an ecological and economic point of view, “these fuels are an interesting alternative.” 

Source: Natural Gas World