LNG is a potential game-changer for the trucking industry but its success depends on a number of factors that are not so easy to predict. It could be a realistic alternative to diesel, at least in some territories as it provides a 20-25% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to diesel and can be used in compression ignition engines with high efficiency.
The number of LNG fuel stations is growing rapidly. The estimated number of stations in Europe is 200 today. Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and the Nordic countries have been actively developing fuel infrastructure. Meanwhile several major truck manufacturers have developed and introduced LNG-fueled models to the market with stronger engines that will suit longer haul applications.
I am fully convinced that we have now reached a point in time where LNG is a viable fuel alternative throughout Europe. Of course, we must bear in mind that different circumstances apply in different countries. What might be the most feasible fuel alternative in the Nordics may not work in Germany, or vice versa. Naturally much depends on prices and on the commitment of authorities to invest in the further development of LNG infrastructure.
There is one thing we can be certain about, however. With the European Union and other global organizations setting strict targets regarding CO2 emissions, diesel vehicles are being banned in cities across the EU and elsewhere. While these bans have not yet been extended to trucks and buses, they may well be incorporated into legislation that sets 2030 as a deadline for lower emissions.
Lars Mårtensson works as Environment and Innovation Director at Volvo Trucks.