Biogas for heavy vehicles
The challenge of converting the freight transport sector to fossil-free energy will require more than one type of energy source. Electrification is one promising alternative for urban distribution in city regions as well as inter-regionally between metropolitan areas. Providing all of Sweden with fossil-free energy, however, will require alternative fuels.
Methane gas is regarded as one of several alternatives to diesel motors for heavy vehicle traffic. Methane occurs naturally in large quantities, but it can also be produced, fossil-free, as biogas from renewable raw materials. The gas can be used either in compressed form in pressurized tanks (CNG/CBG) or in chilled, liquefied form (LNG/LBG). CNG is used globally in large amounts, and the technology has been thoroughly tested. The problem with compressed methane is that the range is not sufficient for many freight deliveries. By liquefying the gas, the range can be increased significantly, which suits many logistics systems better.
This feasibility study was designed to identify cost-effective concepts for logistics plans adapted to compressed biogas (CBG) and liquefied biogas (LBG), respectively, as well as product owners and stakeholders who are interested in investing in CBG and LBG for freight transport. Factors preventing a commercially sustainable introduction of biogas-driven logistics flows were studied, and an analysis of the potential infrastructure for supplying the market with biogas was conducted. The goal was to identify possible demonstrations with interested businesses and product owners, in which a logistics plan for alternative fuels can be developed.
The interviews and workshops conducted as part of the project were able to establish that the different supply-side, distribution-side and demand-side operators see similar possibilities and barriers for biogas, including liquid biogas, for heavy vehicles. The primary motivation is that biogas is a sustainable fuel that contributes to a reduced climate impact and to a circular economy. Many of the operators also see an opportunity to produce their own biogas from their waste, thereby finding an outlet for the product. New LBG vehicles on the market, new instruments and the reduction pledge in force are seen as factors that can improve the conditions for liquid biogas for heavy vehicles. However, there are several barriers that need to be overcome for the market to be able to take off. One of the most often-named barriers in the study was that there is no long-term, stable policy. This means that a number of operators do not feel comfortable investing in vehicles, gas production or infrastructure.
The study also established that there is a lack of knowledge in the field—important operators lack knowledge about not only liquid biogas, but also renewable fuel alternatives in general and their various qualities. An information campaign and demonstration will be necessary to increase knowledge about biogas solutions and to show that working technology exists. Demonstrations can contribute both to reducing the gaps in information and infrastructure as well as the increased risks of new technology.
One example of a demonstration would be collaboration between transport buyers, drivers, vehicle suppliers, fuel distributors, gas producers, logistics centers, etc. to set up filling stations in strategic locations where transport buyers and drivers can take new LBG vehicles for a test drive. Demonstration projects can be carried out at the local level, such as investing in new filling stations at a logistics center, or at the regional or national level, such as through information campaigns or one or more filling stations to cover fuel needs along major material transport routes. This way, different operators in the supply chain can solve any problems together and learn from each other. Having this type of demonstration out on the roads will hopefully set a good example that can lead to more operators feeling comfortable investing in biogas technology.
The project is part of the Government's collaboration program "Next generation's travel and transport" and is funded in part by Vinnova, Sweden's innovation authority, within the framework of Drive Sweden.