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Substantial progress has been made in changing the way energy is used in Ireland. Homeowners and businesses have become more conscious of the need to reduce energy use and to make sure that their energy comes from cleaner sources. One area which has progressed slower than others is transport. Our dependence on diesel and petrol has been stubborn to shift. Gas Networks Ireland is set to change this for commercial fleet and bus operators.
In January, Gas Networks Ireland announced the development of a new transport energy network – 70 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations located around Ireland. The new network will be aimed primarily at commercial users, giving them the opportunity to invest in a low or zero carbon fleet for the first time. This network will contribute to making Ireland’s transport sector green, while also helping to reduce costs for operators.
The Gas Networks Ireland Causeway Project, co-financed by the European Union’s TEN-T Programme under the Connecting Europe Facility, has a number of elements. Firstly, Gas Networks Ireland is working with forecourt operators to build the network of fast-fill filling points, principally located on the main motorway network. In the first phase of the project, already in progress, 14 public stations are to be built.
Secondly, Gas Networks will provide a Vehicle Fund to support haulage companies invest in new commercial vehicles. This fund is already open, and details of how to apply are available on the Gas Networks Ireland website.
Finally, the project will see the introduction of renewable gas into the system. On its own, CNG immediately reduces carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 22 per cent compared to diesel. Renewable gas will eliminate these emissions completely. Produced from the anaerobic digestion of organic matter from agricultural, food processing and waste management industry, renewable gas is exactly the same as natural gas and works in the same vehicles and refuelling stations. This means that, from this year, bus companies and haulage companies will have the option of moving to a carbon neutral solution, powered by renewable gas. Many public transport fleets in the UK and around Europe have already made this switch.
Vehicle manufacturers have been quick to respond to the Gas Networks Ireland project, with major brands such as Scania and Iveco introducing CNG vehicles into the Irish market to capitalise on, what is likely to be, a strong take-up of the technology. CNG vehicles offer excellent fuel economy, low maintenance costs and similar ranges to diesel powered HGVs.
Gas Networks Ireland Commercialisation Manager, Dan FitzPatrick says: “Fleet and transport operators are looking for alternatives that allow them to make sound environmental decisions and help reduce costs. Switching to gas achieves that. Gas Networks Ireland is very encouraged to be working with the major fleet manufacturers and fuel suppliers to build this market in Ireland.
“CNG, and in the future renewable gas, will play a major role in making transport in Ireland cleaner. Gas Networks Ireland is determined to play a vital role in facilitating the development of this new, cleaner transport network.”
A proven technology, CNG is natural gas which has been compressed to fit into a vehicle’s tank and is particularly suitable for use in commercial vehicles including trucks, buses and vans. As an alternative to diesel or petrol it provides the greatest benefits for operators/owners of the vehicles through the reduction of harmful emissions and the generation of considerable fuel cost savings of up to 35 per cent.
Worldwide there are 19 million Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) in operation, and of these, 1.9 million are in Europe. Gas Networks Ireland is currently seeking sites and potential partners for the roll out of this new network.
The Causeway Project supporting the installation of the new CNG network is co-financed by Gas Networks Ireland and the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility.
Gas Networks Ireland
T: 1850 411 511