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Energy supplier Rheingas and fuel system supplier Prins demand LPG back on the political scene
(WK-intern) – Two major players in the German LPG market explain how the energy transition in transport can succeed:
Bart van Aerle, Managing Director of fuel system supplier Prins Autogassystemen (part of Westport Fuel Systems) and Rheingas CEO Uwe Thomsen in a double interview about untapped potential, technology openness, immediate solutions and a “renewable” future.
The federal election is coming up and the pressure on climate policy is as high as never before. The political course has been set for climate protection, and the targets for reducing CO2 emissions are clear and tight. Now it’s time to get moving – and fast. Increased use of (bio)LPG in mobility could already help to immediately reduce not only CO2 but also pollutant and particulate emissions. A potential that is still largely underestimated, because with emissions of just under 166 million tons of CO2 equivalents, the transportation sector remains the problem child of the energy transition. This economically viable and environmentally friendly immediate solution must be recognized and, in particular, the potential of sustainable BioLPG must be more strongly exploited and promoted.
Liquid gas as an immediate solution for mobility
Although LPG use originated in Germany, there is a great deal of ignorance about LPG as an alternative car fuel (= autogas). This must change, explains Thomsen. LPG offers an environmentally friendly, economical alternative to conventional fuels that can achieve an immediate reduction in CO2 and pollutant emissions – on average 15 percent less CO2 and up to 99 percent less particulate matter compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. Moreover, it can be refueled at every second filling station in Germany. This makes it particularly attractive for use in rural areas, since – unlike hydrogen or electromobility – it can be transported flexibly to remote regions. For Thomsen, this is where the greatest potential lies: “Up to 90 percent of Germany is rural; the private car continues to play a key role here. Thanks to the nationwide infrastructure, LPG can close the gap in local and commuter traffic that electromobility cannot cover due to the range issue”.
LPG vehicles already save considerable amounts of CO2 in Germany. The currently around 350.300 million LPG vehicles registered on German roads save the atmosphere around.000 metric tons of the climate-damaging gas per year.
Exploiting the potential of existing fleets now
Manufacturers such as Dacia, Renault and Fiat offer vehicles equipped with LPG directly from the factory – but Van Aerle sees a particularly effective lever for increasing the share of LPG in transport primarily in the conversion of existing fleets: “48 million passenger cars are currently on German roads, of which around 31 million are gasoline vehicles. Only a small proportion of these will be able to be replaced by battery electric vehicles by 2030”. With the average age of passenger cars currently at 9.8 years, there is enormous potential here, as these vehicles can be converted to run on LPG without great effort and at manageable cost. Rheingas has also already converted 90 percent of its own passenger car fleet with Prins autogas systems.
The future is “renewable
In order to make the vision of a climate-neutral Germany by 2045 a reality, the liquefied petroleum gas industry is also actively working on the development and establishment of sustainable and renewable variants of the fossil energy source. The addition of so-called “green” gases – biogenic or synthetic – will turn fossil LPG into 100 percent renewable, climate-neutral gas in the long term, making a decisive contribution to the decarbonization of road traffic.
Biogenic liquefied petroleum gas (BioLPG) offers the advantage that it can be obtained from up to 100 percent organic, renewable raw materials. “As an industry, we are conducting intensive research in parallel on a way to produce LPG synthetically in order to circumvent fossil dependency,” Thomsen affirms, “for example, as part of initial pilot projects such as ‘FutureLiquidGas’. A fully synthetic, carbon-neutral option generated from renewable electricity needs to enter testing so it can earn its place in the energy mix of the future”.
However, the biological and synthetic path is only possible if the conventional, fossil product continues to be supported – here, he says, it is up to politicians to create the necessary framework conditions and purchase incentives.
Traffic turnaround requires openness to technology
“As an industry, we have created all the conditions. Now it’s time for politicians to finally recognize and exploit this climate potential – I see a lot of catching up to do here,” says Thomsen. The industry is very concerned that politicians are not taking the concerns of companies seriously in terms of costs, competitiveness and planning security. In order to successfully achieve the traffic turnaround, all sustainable technologies and energy solutions must play their part in the green transformation.
Prins Autogassystemen and Rheingas are pursuing the goal of finding fast, safe and, above all, affordable solutions to the problem of pollutants in traffic. According to Van Aerle, the ONE miracle weapon does not yet exist: “Whether the ideal drive of the future in mobility has already been found, I would like to put a question mark over it. In my opinion, there is no silver bullet here and it is particularly important to shape the transition to regenerative drives. What we need, however, is ‘fair play,’ d.h. legal equality with other environmentally friendly alternatives. Don’t get me wrong: we don’t think the traffic turnaround can be achieved with LPG alone. But we want to and can be part of the solution. LPG offers more than just the transition to the non-fossil age”.
PM: Prins Autogassystemen B.V. / Propane Rheingas GmbH& Co. KG
PB: Refueling at an LPG station in Bruhl / © Propan Rheingas GmbH& Co. KG