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Natural Gas in Road Transportation - A Low-emission Bridging Technology?


  • Wang-Helmreich, Hanna

    () (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy)

  • Lochner, Stefan

    () (Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln)


Greenhouse gas emission reductions are at the centre of national and international efforts to mitigate climate change. In road transportation, many politically incentivised measures focus on increasing the energy efficiency of established technologies, or promoting electric or hybrid vehicles. The abatement potential of the former approach is limited, electric mobility technologies are not yet market-ready. In a case study for Germany, this paper focuses on natural gas powered vehicles as a bridging technology towards low-emission road transportation. Scenario analyses with a low level of aggregation show that natural gas-based road transportation in Germany can accumulate up to 464 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emission reductions until 2030 depending on the speed of the diffusion process. If similar policies were adopted EU-wide, the emission reduction potential could reach a maximum of about 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent. A model-based analysis shows that the comparative cost advantage of natural gas relative to petrol and diesel per energy unit is not significantly reduced by the increased gas demand from natural gas vehicles. Capital costs for the transformation of the transport system to natural gas are therefore accompanied by lower fuel costs. Specific emission abatement costs of natural gas based mobility decline over time. After between 15 and 20 years, they are projected to be relatively low or even negative when a maximum rate of diffusion of natural gas vehicles is assumed.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang-Helmreich, Hanna & Lochner, Stefan, 2011. "Natural Gas in Road Transportation - A Low-emission Bridging Technology?," EWI Working Papers 2011-14, Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln (EWI).
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:ewikln:2011_014

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lochner, Stefan & Bothe, David, 2009. "The development of natural gas supply costs to Europe, the United States and Japan in a globalizing gas market--Model-based analysis until 2030," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 1518-1528, April.
    2. Nagl, Stephan & F├╝rsch, Michaela & Paulus, Moritz & Richter, Jan & Trueby, Johannes & Lindenberger, Dietmar, 2010. "Scenarios for an Energy Policy Concept of the German Government," EWI Working Papers 2010-6, Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universitaet zu Koeln (EWI).
    3. Malte Schwoon, 2005. "Simulating the Adoption of Fuel Cell Vehicles," Working Papers FNU-59, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Feb 2006.
    4. Yeh, Sonia, 2007. "An empirical analysis on the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles: The case of natural gas vehicles," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 5865-5875, November.
    5. Quiggin, John, 2007. "Stern and his critics on discounting and climate change," Risk and Sustainable Management Group Working Papers 152087, University of Queensland, School of Economics.
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    More about this item


    Emission reduction potential; Road transportation; Natural gas vehicles; Abatement costs; Low emission mobility; Alternative fuels;

    JEL classification:

    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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