People will be talking about natural gas fuel in 2017. But what is it?
Natural gas fuel is used in a gaseous or liquid state. There are two types: compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
It’s referred to as an alternative fuel because it’s one of the most credible substitutes in the short term for “conventional” fuel. Vehicles that run on natural gas are twice as quiet as diesel and emit fewer particulates and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Franck Schmiedt, Vice President, Product Marketing in Marketing & Services, reminds us of the importance of those benefits: “We’re convinced that alternative fuels have a role to play in road transportation and will provide key solutions in terms of air quality and reducing emissions.”
CNG Versus LNG: Total’s Choice
Between CNG and LNG, Total is opting for CNG. “We believe in CNG because it lets us go after a much broader range of potential customers, from cars to trucks,” Franck Schmiedt continues. LNG, demand for which will be lower in road transportation, is mainly for long-haul trucks. CNG in contrast is better suited to city vehicles, such as commercial vehicles, buses and garbage trucks, and gives trucks a range of 300 to 550 kilometers between filling up.
It’s also more expensive to buy and maintain a truck that runs on LNG. To pay for itself, it must travel nearly 140,000 kilometers a year, compared to 80,000* for a CNG truck.
Priority on Europe and Fast-Tracking Deployment in France
CNG fuel is already available in 450 service stations in our global network. It is sold in Europe — in Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands — as well as Egypt and Pakistan.
Total now wants to accelerate CNG deployment, adding 200-plus fueling stations by 2026, including 110 in France. So we’re giving priority to Europe, especially France, where we plan to blanket the country with a network located as close as possible to our customers. In follow-up to the Nantes Est AS24 station, 15 CNG stations are expected to open in the country in the coming year, followed by ten a year through 2026.
Why We Believe in Natural Gas Fuel
As the E.U. directive promoting alternative fuel infrastructure takes effect, Total is more interested than ever in smoothing the path for new products, as part of our drive to become the responsible energy major.
So the goal is not just to meet demand, but to anticipate it. For although few drivers fill up with natural gas fuel now, the market could quadruple in the next 10 years. “Natural gas fuel is a perfect response to air quality improvement policies. In France, this takes the form of the ‘Crit’Air’ sticker, the air quality certificate to promote the use of the cleanest vehicles and reduce air pollution,” adds Franck Schmiedt. Of the six levels the program recognizes, vehicles that run on CNG are classified Crit’Air 1, while the best diesels can only display the Crit’Air 2 sticker.”
The other reason has to do with the type of needs met by the CNG Total is banking on. Its more limited range makes it a “last-mile” fuel, better suited for regional driving. It therefore needs a much denser network of stations than LNG. And with our 2,200 Total and 250 AS24 stations in France, we’re currently the operator best positioned to offer a dense enough network of CNG pumps.
*Figures for France only and based on 2016 prices.