Working towards the CNG transition

Julie McGrath, CNG Commercial Engineer, Gas Networks Ireland.

Julie McGrath, CNG Commercial Engineer, Gas Networks Ireland.

Julie McGrath is a Commercial Engineer with Gas Networks Ireland’s Compressed Natural Gas Project Team.

Tell me a bit about your job?

I work with Gas Networks Ireland’s CNG Project Team. My primary focus is on the delivery of a nationwide network of 70 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refuelling stations. Although widely adopted across the world, CNG is an entirely new technology for Ireland and part of my job is to ensure we deliver what the commercial transport market is asking for. My job entails working with our partner operators, like Topaz, vehicle providers, the energy regulator – the Commission for Energy Regulation, and our design and construction teams to oversee the installation of CNG infrastructure. Part of my role is also to ensure that a range of CNG vehicles are available for the market, so that Ireland’s commercial transport customers can take advantage of this new alternative fuel choice. At the moment, we are in the process of installing Ireland’s first publicly-accessible, fast-fill CNG station, at Topaz’s Dublin Port forecourt station.

What response have you had to the CNG project?

We have had a very positive response to date. Commercial transport operators in Ireland recognise their environmental responsibilities and that they have a role to play in decreasing Ireland’s emissions from transport. In addition to the environmental benefits, CNG offers fuel cost savings of up to 35 per cent compared to diesel, while delivering a comparable fuel performance. Our main focus is to deliver the network of refuelling stations that makes adopting CNG, by investing in appropriate fleet, a viable business decision for Ireland’s hauliers, and we are delighted that this network is beginning to take shape.

Why is developing CNG important, both for Gas Networks Ireland and for Ireland?

CNG presents an opportunity for Ireland to tackle the problem of transport emissions. The transport sector accounts for almost 20 per cent of Ireland’s GHG emissions, and is responsible for 33 per cent of Ireland’s primary energy demand. Although heavy goods vehicles make up only 3 per cent of vehicles on the road, they are responsible for 20 per cent of the transport sector’s final energy consumption.

Reducing our emissions is not just the right thing to do from an environmental perspective; but if Ireland fails to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets, we will suffer heavy fines. Latest industry estimates suggest potential fines of up to €600m per annum.

Our network of CNG refuelling stations will also act as a pathway for the use of renewable gas as a transport fuel for customers wishing to utilise a completely carbon neutral transport fuel.

What are you personally hoping to achieve from the project?

I will be very proud to see the project come to fruition. This project, by its very nature, is challenging as we look to set up a new market for CNG in Ireland from scratch. Ultimately though, it is hugely rewarding, we will be part of something that is the first of its kind in Ireland, and that will deliver real environmental, economic, and social benefits.

What would you consider to be the greatest benefits of CNG for Ireland?

Installing a robust network of CNG stations is an extremely important move for Ireland towards a low-carbon based economy. One of the major advantages of the introduction of CNG in transport is the improvement in air quality for all Irish people, as we significantly reduce harmful emissions from transport.

Diesel related emissions are a serious concern throughout Europe due to the health impact of poor air quality. In late 2016, Paris, Madrid and Athens all announced a ban on diesel cars and trucks by 2025, to promote cleaner alternatives. In a recent report, the Environmental Protection Agency indicated that without moving to ‘clean transport choices’ we would face nitrogen dioxide levels in cities which would exceed World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. CNG contains 99 per cent less of the particles present in diesel that negatively affect air quality, and so, as a team, we are all very proud to be part of something that will make a real lasting impact on Ireland’s environment.

Gas Networks Ireland

Tel: 1850 411 511





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