Rollout of gas filling stations would help cut CO2, says utility

Compressed natural gas vehicles emit 22% less CO2 than diesel - Gas Networks Ireland

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its annual greenhouse gas emissions figures for Ireland, which stood at 58.2 million tonnes last year. File photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its annual greenhouse gas emissions figures for Ireland, which stood at 58.2 million tonnes last year. File photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

 

Seventy filling stations supplying compressed natural gas to motorists would help significantly to cut Ireland’s carbon dioxide transports emissions, Gas Networks Ireland has said.

Speaking to TDs on Wednesday, the company’s managing director, Liam O’Sullivan, said compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles emit 22 per cent less carbon dioxide than diesel-fuelled vehicles.

CNG is currently used by just a fraction of Ireland’s fleet of trucks and buses, but it has proven increasingly popular in continental European countries where nearly 1.8 million vehicles now run on this form of gas.

Fallen behind

Ireland has fallen behind on its commitments to abide by a European Union directive that ordered the creation of a CNG refuelling system across the country by 2020.

Gas Networks Ireland has proposed to establish three such fuelling stations next year, but the number would grow quickly to 27 before finally numbering 70.

HGVs and buses make up just 3 per cent of Ireland’s vehicle fleet, but they account for almost a third of all transport emissions, Mr O’Sullivan told the Oireachtas committee.

“The development of this future-proofed infrastructure will allow us to make an immediate impact on our transport emissions. It will also support the growth of renewable gas, further reducing our emissions,” he said.

CNG vehicles are about 10 per cent more expensive than diesel equivalents, but the extra costs can be recouped quickly through fuel cost savings of up to 35 per cent for fleet operators.

Motor tax incentives

Still, he wants the Government to introduce motor tax incentives to encourage more transport companies and drivers to switch to CNG-compatible models.

“If Ireland were to convert just half the national bus and HGV fleets to CNG there would be a fuel cost-saving of €524 million and an emissions saving of 165,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

“A progressive national policy on CNG will incentivise fleet operators to convert from diesel or petrol vehicles to CNG for all major fleets of HGV trucks and public transport buses. A VRT and motor tax treatment should also be implemented to support low emission vehicles,” he told TDs and Senators.

Gas Networks Ireland has already established Ireland’s first CNG filling station at its office in Cork, and has conducted trials of the fuel with Bus Éireann, which Mr O’Sullivan said were successful.

He added that using CNG in conjunction with renewable gas could cut transport emissions by two million tonnes of CO2.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released its annual greenhouse gas emissions figures for Ireland, which stood at 58.2 million tonnes last year.