Electricity is not yet viable alternative to diesel - GNI

The public consultation period on the Material Amendments to the County Development Plan that is to run from 2021 to 2027 closed on January 20 - the report below is based on one of the submissions.

Electricity is not yet a viable alternative to diesel – but a potential option exists in the form of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), the submission by Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) states.

Its submission proposes that the Westmeath Plan acknowledge and reference this.

“Emission reduction is a key issue to be addressed in transport,” the GNI submission states. “Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) are responsible for a disproportionate amount of transport emissions. They comprised 4% of registered vehicles nationally in 2018, however, SEAI estimates indicate that they produced 14% of total transport emissions.

“Decarbonisation of HGVs is particularly challenging as electricity is currently not a viable alternative to diesel. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is a potential option with reduced carbon emissions relative to diesel.

“When the production of renewable gas is increased on the gas network, and utilised by CNG vehicles as bio-CNG, carbon neutral transport can be achieved.

“CNG also has significant air quality benefits.”

The submission suggests inclusion of the following wording in the plan: “Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is natural gas that has been compressed to fit into a vehicle’s tank and is particularly suitable for use in commercial vehicles.

“The development of CNG Infrastructure will enable fuel switching from diesel to CNG for HGVs and buses, as electricity is currently not a viable alternative to diesel. CNG is an established technology that is used in many countries.”

GNI welcomed the inclusion of initiatives to supply bioenergy and references to anaerobic digestion and biogas, but asked that more detail be included on renewable gas production.

It argues that Anaerobic Digestion (AD) can facilitate farming diversification: “Production of renewable gas in AD plants in rural areas will provide additional revenue sources for these communities, from the sale of feedstocks for the AD plants, bio-fertiliser and renewable gas.”

According to the GNI submission, the Sustainable Energy authority of Ireland (SEAI) estimates that stimulating a renewable gas industry in Ireland could contribute directly to over 5,000 jobs during plant construction and over 3,000 jobs in plant operations.

“With uncertainty regarding agricultural exports to the UK due to Brexit, supplementary income streams for farming are important. Also, agricultural sector emissions are reduced as the AD process captures greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere. This will also assist in achieving the Council’s Farm Diversification Policy Objective.”

The document suggests inclusion of: “Support the rural economy and initiatives in relation to diversification, agri business, rural tourism and renewable energy...”