LPG, the alternative fuel of choice
LPG is the most widely used alternative transport fuel, and seen as a partner by the EU institutions in the objective of reaching its environmental and transport targets because of its recognised CO2 and pollutant emission benefits.
Today, in the EU only, 7.5 million vehicles are powered by Autogas (LPG for road transport), serviced by over 30.000 refuelling stations. Add to that over 4 million LPG powered cars in Turkey, and its 10.000 refuelling stations and it is easy to understand the role that LPG plays in European road transport. About 3 billion euros have been invested in building up the LPG filling station network – 663 new stations were built in 2014.
Autogas demand in Europe grew by nearly 300.000 tonnes in 2014 to 9.63 million tonnes per year. This trend is expected to continue as many opportunities for LPG are appearing in various member states through programmes aimed at fighting urban congestion and favouring low-emission vehicles.
LPG also offers great benefits for the environment when used as a heating fuel. In areas which are not reached by the natural gas grid, a wider deployment can significantly reduce CO2 and pollutant emissions. In EU off-grid areas, the most used fuels for heating are solid fuels (which make up 49% of the off-grid energy mix in Europe) and heating oil (19%). LPG emits 49% less CO2 than coal and 17% less than heating oil and, in addition, its pollutant emissions are very low.
Moreover, as opposed to natural gas, LPG’s supply is already secure and abundant. In fact, a large part of the LPG consumed in Europe is domestically produced and imported LPG comes from a wide range of countries. Hence, shortages are unlikely.
LPG cylinders have a a huge variety of applications, both indoor and outdoor. The first category involves cooking and heating practices – including the hospitality sector – while the second refers to caravans, boats, camping, BBQs, construction and the hot air balloon sectors, to mention a few. However, these cylinders can be used also for forklifts, in order to ensure a safe workplace for the employees and reduce the risks of injuries.
The production of LPG is expected to grow as renewable LPG is just a few steps away from being commercially viable. Several promising projects are being developed in Europe. If successful, they would further increase LPG’s contribution to tackling climate change because renewable LPG has zero net CO2 emissions during its lifecycle.
LPG, with all its uses and its characteristics is undoubtedly the alternative fuel of choice for tens of thousands of European consumers and will continue playing a fundamental role in the European energy mix for years to come.