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Study finds biomethane-fuelled cars are the most environmentally-friendly option

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A recent study has revealed biomethane-fuelled cars are the best transportation option to preserve air quality. The research, conducted by IFP Energies Nouvelles in France, reveals that light vehicles running on biomethane are more environmentally-friendly than other technologies.

The study compares the carbon footprint of the lifecycle of compressed natural gas (CNG) and biomethane vehicles to that of diesel, gasoline and electric vehicles.

According to the European Biogas Association (EBA), this research pre-empts the intention of the European Commission to evaluate ‘the possibility of developing a common Union method for the evaluation of CO2 emissions throughout the lifecycle of these vehicles” in 2023.

Currently, the EU has agreed to reduce average CO2 emissions from new cars by 15% in 2025 and 37.5% in 2030. While these standards measure emissions produced by car usage (tank-to-wheel), they do not consider the full carbon footprint of the vehicles (well-to-wheel). The EBA claims this becomes ‘very relevant’ when comparing emissions from different types of low-carbon vehicles. For example, electric vehicles would be carbon neutral from a tank-to-wheel perspective, but the results differ with well-to-wheel.

A key takeaway from the study is that further biomethane upscaling is needed. The current capacity in France can only supply 100,000-150,000 vehicles. The study recommends a mix of green natural gas (known as bioGNV in France) and biomethane (60%-40%) up to 2030, which could power vehicles with a climate impact equivalent to that of an electric car.

Susanna Pflüger, secretary-general of the EBA, said: “The EEA and many other organisations are highlighting the urgency to decrease CO2 emissions from the transport sector. We have a responsibility towards the environment and our society, and we need to consider every option to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Renewable gas, together with various other renewable sources and low-carbon technologies, must all be part of the solution. The development and upscaling of these technologies will need a holistic, technology-neutral and long-term legislative framework to make this development possible.”