Natural gas pays off

Fresh produce transporters test the use of LNG

When does the whole thing pay off? Where are the gas stations? Are there technical problems? There is very much interest in the use of liquefied gas for distribution and long-haul transport from freight forwarders, as is shown by an LNG roadshow organized by the Federal Association for Road Haulage Logistics and Disposal (BGL), petrol company Shell and Volvo Trucks, supported by trans aktuell, on Wednesday in Berlin.

Already convinced are the managers of Meyer Logistik, a company specializing in fresh logistics, which has been using 20 LNG Iveco Stralis NP 400 hp trucks in the Berlin area for one and a half years. "At 14,000 to 15,000 kilometers per month, the vehicle has amortized in three years time," said logistics manager Daniel Münch.

Additional costs for LNG trucks at about one third
In Germany, funding is provided in several ways. Firstly, through the support program for the purchase of low-CO2 trucks; 12,000 euros per vehicle. Secondly there is the two-year toll-exemption for natural gas vehicles in the years 2019 and 2020, which has just been approved by the Bundestag. Thirdly there is an extended tax reduction on natural gas in Germany. The additional costs for the vehicle are about one third, according to Meyer Logistik.

As far as the refuelling infrastructure is concerned, Meyer Logistik has no problems, at least not in the Berlin area where the vehicles are active. In Grünheide, southeast of Berlin, gas supplier Liqvis was originally a mobile tank system, which has been converted to a stationary point.

So far, however, Meyer Logistik has erred on the side of safety, not overstepping the range, explained René Groß, Area Manager Technology at Meyer Logistik. With a full fuel tank, a maximum of 1,300 kilometers could be driven.

There were no major technical problems. The drivers also benefited from the low noise levels. The other advantages that are important for Münch and Groß: 18 percent less fuel consumption, 23 percent less CO2, 60 percent less nitrogen oxides and 90 percent less particulate matter.

BMVI: Natural gas contributes to climate protection
The Federal Ministry of Transport (BMVI) is open to alternative technology and so it is giving natural gas a chance. It could make a contribution to climate protection and above all it is an option that can be used at short notice, said Birgit Breitfuß-Renner, Head of the Environment and Noise Protection Division. She also referred explicitly to the program for low-carbon trucks. Parliamentary State Secretary in the BMVI, Steffen Bilger, announced on Thursday at the BGL General Assembly that the Federal Office for Goods Transport currently has 42 applications for 218 vehicles with alternative propulsion systems (including e-trucks). Apart from this, he appealed to the industry as well: "Alternative drive systems in trucks have to become even more important."

The refueling infrastructure also plays a role. Liqvis, for example, has announced that it will operate eight LNG filling stations by 2020 in Germany alone. Currently there are two: in addition to the one in Grünheide there is another at Iveco in Ulm. And Shell is not twiddling its thumbs either: in the Handelsblatt, Shell Germany boss Thomas Zengerly announced they would build four more LNG stations within the next 18 months, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Thuringia.

In September, the group had inaugurated its first German LNG refueling station in Hamburg, which will be officially inaugurated on 12 November. "Refueling takes between four and six minutes, which is no longer than refuelling diesel," said Christian Hoellinger, head of LNG Business Development at Shell.

Shell offers training on refueling LNG
However, the drivers would need to be familiar with it, so the company offers training in Hamburg. "We show that LNG is safe and dependable for the drivers," said Hoellinger. LNG is neither toxic nor flammable. A cigarette tip, burning at 300C degrees, cannot ignite the gas. It burns cleaner, produces less soot particles, sulfur, CO2 or noise. "And it's even cheaper than diesel."

Representatives of Volvo Trucks stated they did not have to try to persuade the drivers any longer. A very quiet ride and an option between 420 or 460 hp are good enough arguments by themselves.

Whether or not this will become an option for one's own vehicle fleet will ultimately be up to each and every freight forwarder individually. All the necessary information - from cost analyses through fuel situation to vehicle stats - is now available.

Source: Euro Transport


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