Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
You are here: Home topics Energy Clean Power for Transport Package

Clean Power for Transport Package

24 January 2013
by eub2 -- last modified 24 January 2013

The European Commission has announced an ambitious package of measures to ensure the build-up of alternative fuel stations across Europe with common standards for their design and use. Policy initiatives so far have mostly addressed the actual fuels and vehicles, without considering fuels distribution. Efforts to provide incentives have been un-co-ordinated and insufficient.


Alternative fuels: challenges and key figures


European transport is 94% dependent on oil, of which 84.3% is imported (1), and faces increasing fuel supply insecurity as oil comes from increasingly unstable regions of the world, and a high and rising oil import bill (€ 1 billion per day in 2011) which causes a deficit in the balance of trade (around 2.5% of GDP). It is clear that EU transport must diversify its energy sources.

The Commission's Transport 2050 Strategy (2) – from 2011 – aims to break EU transport's dependence on oil and proposes a target of 60% greenhouse gas emissions reduction by 2050. It sets goals for the different modes of transport, including CO2-free city logistics in major urban centres by 2030, halving the use of conventionally fuelled cars in urban transport by 2030, and phasing them out in cities by 2050. It also envisages 40% CO2-low aviation fuels by 2050, and 40% CO2 emissions reduction from ships. These goals cannot be achieved with conventional fuels but require a big share of alternative fuels.

Alternative fuels can help to reduce Europe's air quality problems. The EU is this year reviewing its air quality policies in order to meet the threat to human health and the environment from poor air quality. It is estimated that there were 420.000 premature deaths from air pollution in the EU in 2010. Much of the air pollution is caused by petrol and diesel burning motor vehicles.

Energy efficiency in transport and effective transport management can substantially contribute to reducing emissions and oil consumption. However, they are not an alternative to oil substitution but a bridge to alternative fuels. Alternative fuels are the ultimate solution to decarbonise transport, by gradually substituting the fossil energy sources which are responsible for the CO2 emissions from transport.

Single-fuel solutions covering all transport modes would be technically possible with liquid biofuels and synthetic (3) fuels (gas-to-liquid and biomass-to-liquid). But feedstock availability and sustainability considerations constrain their supply potential. Thus the expected future energy demand in transport can most likely not be met by one single fuel. Fuel demand and greenhouse gas challenges will require the use of a large variety of primary energies. There is widespread agreement that all alternative fuels will be needed to resolve the expected supply–demand tensions. In the short term, alternative fuels will also contribute to the achievement of the 10% transport target established by the Renewable Energy Directive.

The current share of renewable energy in transport in the EU is 4.7% (4). Biofuels are the main contributor to this, with 4.4% in 2010.

According to the national renewable energy action plans (NREAPs) submitted at the end of 2010, Member States intended collectively to slightly over-achieve the 10% target. They intended to use about 8.5% first generation biofuels, 1% second generation biofuels and 1% renewable electricity, most of the latter in railways rather than in cars. The contribution of hydrogen in those plans was negligible.

However, with the Commission proposal amending the Renewable Energy Directive – from 17 October 2012 – limiting the use of first generation biofuels to 5%, the Member States need to adapt their action plans to meet the 10% target with other renewable fuels such as biomethane, renewable electricity and hydrogen.

The main options for the different transport modes are: liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas and biomethane (in the forms of CNG, LNG and GTL), electricity, biofuels and hydrogen.

Alternative fuels already exist, and in many cases the relevant technology is mature enough for market deployment. However this market development still has major hurdles to overcome on the way to a broader uptake. A common issue for all alternative fuels (except LPG) is the lack of infrastructure for energy supply to the customer (refuelling/recharging points). The build-up of infrastructure therefore is a necessary – though not sufficient – condition for a broad market development of all alternative fuels. Moreover, even when this infrastructure exists, the relevant standards are not the same EU-wide.

At the moment we are caught in a vicious circle. Investors do not put their money into building alternative fuel infrastructure because there are not enough vehicles and vessels to use it. These, in turn, are not offered by manufacturers at competitive prices as there is not enough consumer demand. And consumers do not buy the vehicles because the infrastructure is not there. There is a gap between successful demonstrations and the real market, which the private sector is unable to reach at the moment.

Current situation – Key figures

The current and foreseeable situation of the development of alternative fuels in Europe and worldwide is the following.

A breakdown of worldwide sales of electric vehicles (EVs) in 2011 shows that the United States (19,860) is by far the biggest market for EVs, followed by Japan (7,671) and some European countries: Germany (1,858), France (1,796), Norway (1,547) and UK (1,170). China only sold 1,560 EVs and India 585 (5). 7,500 charging points are installed in the US, 1,500 in China and 1,100 in Japan. In the EU, there are 1,937 charging points in Germany, 1,700 in the Netherlands, and 1356 in Spain (2011 data).

On the basis of the national plans, it is expected that the diffusion of electric vehicles (EVs) and plugged hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) will be as follows: in the US 1 million vehicles by 2015, China 5 million vehicles and 10 million charging points by 2020. France expects to have 2 million vehicles by 2020, Germany 1 million by the same year; UK 1.55 million and Spain 2.5 million. (6)

The introduction of hydrogen and fuel-cell vehicles is very limited to date; several hundred demonstration vehicles (cars, buses) and just over 200 fuelling stations are active worldwide (120 of them in the EU), with over 100 more at the planning stage. Major OEMs including Daimler, Toyota, Honda, GM, Hyundai, Nissan, are preparing for first product roll-out around 2014/2015, though this will only amount to several thousand vehicles in the run-up to 2017. Germany, Japan, Korea and the US lead – with China and India now making early moves. In the EU, Scandinavia, UK and Italy are also active.

Regarding natural gas vehicles; in 2011 there were 15.2 million in the world, representing 1.2% of the total stock. In the EU there are 1 million vehicles, which represents 0.5% of the entire fleet.The number of CNG vehicles in Italy was about 746,000 and in Germany almost 100,000. The number of refuelling points in these countries was 903 in Germany and 853 in Italy.

There are 38 LNG filling stations in the EU, 22 in United Kingdom, and the rest in Spain, Sweden, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland and Belgium. For the near future, a further 12 LNG/L-CNG stations are planned to be built in the framework of the LNG Blue Corridors project, accompanied by the deployment of a fleet of approximately 100 LNG heavy duty vehicles (7).

LNG maritime terminals exist in Belgium, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway. There are more than 40 small-scale LNG terminals in Norway. In addition there are plans to establish additional 16 terminals in Poland, Lithuania, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France and United Kingdom in the near future.

The main biofuels currently used in road transport are bioethanol blended with petrol and biodiesel blended with diesel. There are mainly three large biofuels markets in the world: Brazil, US and the EU, with the first two focusing on bioethanol; biodiesel is more used in the EU.

As regards bioethanol, in 2010 its energy share in motor petrol for road transport was 18% in Brazil, 6% in the US and 2.9% in the EU. As regards biodiesel, in 2010 its energy share in transport diesel for road transport was 6% in Brazil, 5% in the EU and 1% in the US.

Europe is already a leader in petrol and diesel car manufacturing. This leadership could be maintained because Europe's car and equipment manufacturers have the potential to become world leaders in the new and growing sector of alternatively fuelled vehicles.

What are alternative fuels? (8)

The main fuels are: liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas and biomethane (in the forms of CNG, LNG and GTL), electricity, biofuels and hydrogen.

LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is a by-product of the hydrocarbon fuel chain, currently resulting from crude oil and natural gas, and possibly also from biomass in the future. LPG can be used for road transport (for cars and trucks) for all range of distances. It can also be used for inland waterborne transport as well as for short sea shipping. LPG is currently the most widely used alternative fuel, with approximately 9 million LPG vehicles running in the EU. Infrastructure is well developed with a significant number of filling stations already present in the EU (approximately 28,000). However, this infrastructure is unevenly available in some Member States.

Natural gas and biomethane can be sourced from fossil natural gas (9) or from biomass and wastes as biomethane (10), injected into the general gas grid.

    CNG vehicles are based on mature technology, using conventional internal combustion engines. A reasonable choice of vehicles has been developed in recent years. A major obstacle to broader market introduction is the lack of refuelling infrastructure in a large part of Europe. CNG can be used for all road vehicles over short and medium distances.

    LNG is an attractive option for trucks and ships due to its high energy density and low pollutant emissions. Vehicle technology is mature. Broader uptake is hampered by the lack of infrastructure.

    Gas-to-Liquid (GTL) is suitable for cars and trucks over all distances. No dedicated infrastructure is necessary because this kind of fuel is fully fungible with conventional fuels.

Electricity as a power source for vehicle propulsion allows a radical change in energy supply to transport, from a single energy source, such as oil, to a universal energy carrier, which can be produced from all primary energy sources. Local emission of pollutants from transport is completely supressed when using electricity for propulsion. Electric vehicles therefore are ideally suited to urban areas.

Reductions of CO2 emissions of some 30% are obtained when replacing an internal combustion engine vehicle by an electric vehicle (powered by the EU electricity mix) (11). Electricity can be used for cars, buses, vans and over short distances. It is also suitable for two-wheelers (particularly common in France, where 160,000 two-wheelers were sold in 2011).

Hydrogen powered fuel-cell vehicles provide longer range than battery electric vehicles. Refuelling times are short and comparable to present internal combustion engine vehicles. The main drawbacks of hydrogen powered vehicles are the high cost, mainly due to expensive fuel cells, and the lack of refuelling infrastructure. Hydrogen requires the construction of new distribution and refuelling infrastructure. The GHG reduction potential of hydrogen depends on the primary energy sources used. On-vehicle carbon emissions are zero (12).

Biofuels could technically substitute oil in all transport modes, with existing power train technologies and refuelling infrastructures. The production of biofuels, however, is limited by the availability of land, and sustainability considerations.

The main advantages of liquid biofuels are their high energy density and the compatibility with existing vehicles and fuel distribution infrastructure, up to certain limits in concentration.

What is the problem?

The full-scale deployment of clean fuels has been held back by three main barriers: the high retail cost of vehicles, a low level of consumer acceptance and the lack of infrastructure for recharging and refuelling.

At the moment there is a vicious circle where investors do not invest in alternative fuel infrastructure as there are not enough vehicles and vessels. The manufacturing industry does not offer alternative fuel vehicles and vessels at competitive prices as there is insufficient consumer demand. And consumers do not purchase the vehicles and vessels due to the lack of dedicated infrastructure.

The availability of recharging/refuelling stations is not only a technical prerequisite for the functioning of alternative fuel vehicles, but also one of the most critical components of consumer acceptance. The importance of infrastructure for alternative fuels has been recognised by a large number of Member States, regional and local authorities (13).

Policy initiatives from the EU and Member States have mostly addressed the development of alternative fuels and/or alternatively fuelled vehicles and vessels, without considering the need for the build-up of an appropriate alternative fuel distribution infrastructure. The efforts of the Member States and the EU to incentivize the development of alternative fuel infrastructure have therefore been uncoordinated and insufficient.

What is the European Commission proposing?

The Commission is proposing action to ensure the necessary infrastructure build-up across Europe, with common standards for interoperability.

The minimum coverage requirement of recharging/refuelling points for electricity, hydrogen, LNG for maritime waterborne and road transport and CNG shall be implemented before 31 December 2020. The minimum infrastructure coverage requirement for LNG for inland waterway transport shall be implemented by 31 December 2025 at the latest.

The relevant technical standards for the same fuels shall be adopted and implemented before 31 December 2015. Member States shall ensure that clear and simple information on the compatibility between fuels and vehicles is available by the date this directive has to be transposed into national law.

No public spending is required for the build-up of alternative transport fuel infrastructure if the Member States use the wide range of measures available to mobilise private investment cost-efficiently..

What is being proposed to support the development of infrastructure for electric vehicles?

Recharging points

The current situation: the situation for electric charging points varies greatly across the EU (see table below). The leading countries are Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and United Kingdom. Therefore, the network is focused on key cities and there is not yet a critical mass for the development of the market.

Germany established a target of 1 million vehicles by 2020. € 4 billion will be devoted to promoting electric cars until 2015.

The United Kingdom established a target of 1.55 million vehicles by 2020. € 300 million will be devoted to promoting electric cars between 2009 and 2014.

France established a target of 2 million electric vehicles by 2020. In addition to introduction schemes for consumers up to € 7,000, France will devote more than € 450 million to install adequate public charging infrastructure in its 25 biggest urban areas by 2014.

Spain established a target of 250,000 BEVs and PHEVs by 2014 and 2.5 million EVs by 2020.

The proposal: A minimum number of recharging points is required for each Member State. This number is based on the number of electric vehicles planned in the Member States. 10% of these should be publicly accessible (see table below).

The total estimated cost for the proposed development of electric charging points in the EU will be approximately € 8 billion.

The impact: The aim is to put in place a critical mass of electric charging points where it becomes interesting for investors and companies to mass produce the cars at a reasonable price for a growing market and where consumers have the confidence to buy the cars.

Minimum number of electric vehicle recharging points in each Member State (14)

Members States

Existing infrastructure

(charging points)


Proposed targets of publicly accessible infrastructure by 2020

Member States' plans for nos of electric vehicles for 2020

















Czech Republic







































130,000 (by 2015)

















































United Kingdom




Technical specifications

The current situation: there are two main different types of charging points in Europe. This could lead to a situation where a car that travels from France to Germany cannot be refuelled.

The proposal: Common standards for electric charging points across Europe must be designed and implemented by December 2015.

The impact: The aim is to ensure that electric cars can circulate freely across the EU.

What is being proposed to support the development of infrastructure for hydrogen?

Refuelling stations

The current situation: Germany, Italy and Denmark already have a significnt number of hydrogen refuelling stations: 42, 21 and 14 respectively. Some of them are not publicly accessible. There are some 120 hydrogen refuelling stations all over the EU for approximately five hundred hydrogen and fuel-cell vehicles.

In the EU, several Member States have established plans for hydrogen infrastructure deployment. In June 2012, Germany has announced the expansion of its refuelling network focusing on the country's metropolitan regions and the creation of corridors connecting these regions. Denmark has also announced an infrastructure programme earlier this year, whose objective is to establish national coverage by 2015.

The proposal: Existing filling stations must be complemented to form a network ensuring the mobility of hydrogen vehicles in those countries where activities on hydrogen powered fuel-cell vehicles are already under way. The proposed rules will ensure that a sufficient number of publicly accessible refuelling points are available, with maximum distances of 300 km, to allow the circulation of hydrogen vehicles Union-wide by 31 December 2020.

The total estimated cost for the proposed development of hydrogen refuelling stations in the EU will be approximately € 123 million.

The impact: This measure will complement the existing network in order to facilitate the mobility of hydrogen and fuel-cell vehicles in those European areas which have installed a certain hydrogen infrastructure.

Technical specifications

The current situation: Draft international standards already exist. However, standards are still needed for certain components such as fuel hoses and permitting for fuel stations, including trucked-in hydrogen, trans-filling and fuel dispenser and vehicle tank information protocols (to enable optimum refuelling).

The proposal: Common standards for refuelling stations for hydrogen cars must be developed and implemented by 2015.

The impact: This will ensure that HFC (hydrogen and fuel cell) vehicles can circulate across the defined EU hydrogen network.

What is being proposed to support the development of infrastructure for natural gas vehicles?

Refuelling stations

Waterborne (LNG)

The current situation: The International Maritime Organizations' (IMO) marine fuel decision, the EU Marine Fuel Sulphur Directive, supporting 0,1% sulphur content in ship fuel from January 2015 (15),the enforcement of the ECAS zones (emission control area for ships) in several European seas, all work as a motivation towards adoption of LNG fuels. LNG infrastructure for fuelling vessels is at a very early stage, with only Norway and Sweden having developed small-scale LNG terminals for bunkering purposes. The Baltic area seems to have promising development for this infrastructure type as a result of the supply of LNG in this region, regulations in emissions, and also incentives for SOX and NOX emissions reductions in northern Europe.

The proposal: The Commission is proposing that LNG refuelling stations be installed in all maritime and inland ports of the trans-European transport (TEN-T) core network by 2020 (2025 for inland ports). There are 139 maritime and inland ports in the TEN-T core network accounting for about a 10% of all EU ports.

The total estimated cost for the proposed development of LNG refuelling stations for waterborne transport the EU will be approximately € 2.1 billion.

The impact: This will ensure that LNG vessels can circulate to all main EU ports and access LNG refuelling stations.

Technical specifications

The current situation: The IMO is developing an international code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying LNG (IGC Code). The IMO has also started work on a new international code on safety for gas-fuelled ships (IGF Code). In addition and complementing ISO and IMO, the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGGTO) and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) are also working on international standards, including for LNG bunkering and related port operations.

The proposal: LNG refuelling points for waterborne vessels shall comply with the relevant standards, to be adopted by 2014.

Road transport (LNG)

The current situation: There are 38 LNG filling stations in the EU: 22 in United Kingdom, with the rest disseminated in Spain, Sweden, Estonia, Netherlands, Poland and Belgium. Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK are planning to promote LNG for trucks. Sweden and the UK also plan the promotion of liquefied biomethane.

For the near future, a further 12 LNG/L-CNG stations are planned to be built in the framework of the "LNG Blue Corridors" project, accompanied by the deployment of a fleet of approximately 100 LNG heavy duty vehicles.

Seven different LNG refuelling stations trials will be tested four different technologies in Spain under the project "Garnet" funded under the TEN-T budget line.

The proposal: The Commission is proposing that, by 2020, along the roads of the Trans-European Transport Core Network refuelling stations are installed every 400 km. This distance is set to allow the proper degree of flexibility for truck drivers, as an LNG truck has an autonomy of about 800–900 km.

The total estimated cost for the proposed development of LNG refuelling stations for trucks in the EU will be approximately € 58 million.

The impact The TEN-T core network covers the main transport corridors across Europe. It is estimated that some 181 LNG refuelling stations will be built and therefore an important market development is expected for LNG heavy duty vehicles, which will replace diesel trucks.


The current situation: There are one million of vehicles running with this fuel, which represents 0.5% of the EU-27 vehicle fleet. The industry aims to have 5% of the fleet by 2020 (16). Higher market growth rates are expected in Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

The proposal: The proposed rule will ensure that a sufficient number of publicly accessible refuelling points are available, with maximum distances of 150 km, to allow the circulation of CNG vehicles Union-wide by 31 December 2020.

The total estimated cost for the proposed development of CNG refuelling stations for road transport vehicles in the EU will be approximately € 160 million.

The impact: This density of refuelling points will allow CNG vehicles to circulate in the whole EU. The impact of this proposal will be lower for Germany and Italy, which already have 839 and 811 publicly accessible CNG refuelling stations respectively.

Technical specifications for LNG and CNG

The current situation: LNG is mainly used in Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom under the respective national standards.

The proposal: Common standards for LNG and CNG refuelling stations for cars, trucks and vessels must be developed by December 2015.

The impact: It is expected that manufacturers producing this equipment will benefit from a sufficiently large EU market to allow for economies of scale.

What measures are being proposed for the other alternative fuels?

No EU action is foreseen for biofuels, LPG and synthetic fuels. There are several reasons for this non-action:

Low-blend biofuels do not need additional infrastructure. Moreover, advanced biofuels will not require new infrastructure.

The LPG core infrastructure is already established. More than 28,000 filling stations are in service in the EU-27 and over 9 million vehicles are circulating in the EU-27. The industry has set out a voluntary standard (EN 14678) which outlines technical and safety requirements for LPG filling stations. This standard should be commonly used.

Gas-to-liquid and biomass-to-liquid fuels (synthetic fuels) are fully fungible with conventional fuels and do not need specific infrastructure; therefore EU action on infrastructure development is unnecessary.

What is being proposed on national strategies?

Member States should implement national frameworks containing at least the following elements:

    An assessment of the current situation and future development of the different alternative fuel options in the Member State;

    Continuity of alternative fuel infrastructure network, providing an assessment of the trans-border continuity of the infrastructure coverage for the different alternative fuel options;

    National targets for 2020 to be defined for the deployment of alternative fuels in the different transport modes and for the relevant infrastructure;

    Information on the regulatory framework, containing regulatory measures to support the build-up of alternative fuel infrastructure, such as building codes, parking lot permits, environmental performance of businesses certification, fuel station concessions.

Member States should also define possible supporting measures such as:

    Direct incentives for purchase of alternative fuel vehicles and vessels or infrastructure;

    Possible tax incentives to promote alternative fuels vehicles and vessels and infrastructure;

    Use of public procurement in support of alternative fuels, including joint procurement;

    Demand-side management measures: e.g. access restrictions, parking policy, dedicated lanes;

    Deployment and manufacturing support;

    Research and development and demonstration.

Frequently asked questions

Why are mandatory targets only given for certain fuels in the strategy? What about the other fuels?

All main alternative fuel options still have major hurdles to overcome on the way to a broader market uptake. A common issue for all of them is the lack of sufficient infrastructure for energy supply to the customer (refuelling/recharging).

However, the legislative proposal only considers those fuels that suffer from a particularly weak introduction on the EU market or in most of the Member States, and for which the necessary investments in infrastructure are significantly uncertain. These fuels are: electricity, CNG, LNG for both road and waterborne transport, and hydrogen.

No EU action on infrastructure deployment is necessary for the following fuels:

    Liquid biofuels can be used with the existing powertrain technology and infrastructure, or with minor modifications in various blending ratios depending on biofuel types;

    Gas-to-liquid (GTL) does not need specific infrastructure because they are fully fungible with conventional fuels;

    For liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) there is a network of 28,000 filling stations and a voluntary standard (EN 14678) already exists.

Why are mandatory targets for infrastructure necessary? Will the market not develop by itself? Will new companies not come in to invest in a new opportunity?

The initial costs for alternative fuel infrastructure are generally higher than those of petroleum-based fuels, especially due to the lack of economies of scale and the small number of circulating vehicles ("chicken and egg" problem). There is a vicious circle whereby investors do not invest in infrastructure as there is an insufficient number of alternative fuel vehicles and vessels, the manufacturing industry does not offer alternative fuel vehicles and vessels at competitive prices as demand is slack, because consumers do not purchase alternative fuel vehicles and vessels as the alternative fuel infrastructure is lacking.

In this respect, it is necessary to set up a policy framework to create the conditions for fuel suppliers and distributors to invest in this sector with confidence.

In particular, first-mover investors would be instrumental for the development of an alternative fuel infrastructure network, especially for highly capital-intensive investments like LNG terminals or hydrogen filling stations. First-mover investors and – to a lesser extent – follower investors are confronted with high up-front costs and uncertain payback times for investments due to the low diffusion of alternative fuel vehicles and vessels and, as a result, the initially slack demand for these fuels.

The policy instruments that have been identified as apt to protect first investors are: the granting of exclusivity rights to first-mover investors, awarding concessions, direct public financial support, public guarantees, self-regulation through strategic alliances and the use of public procurement. The choice of the appropriate policy instruments should be up to each Member State on a case-by-case basis.

How much will the new infrastructure cost? Who will pay for it given that public funding is now very scarce? What is the impact for the EU?

The total cost for the EU is approximately € 10.5 billion between now and 2020. The cost share among Member States will be based on the number of km and the number of maritime/inland ports included in the TEN-T Core Network (and the TEN-T Comprehensive Network for CNG), as well as by the number of electric vehicle charging points to be installed in each Member State.

The number of electricity recharging points to be mandated in each MS is calculated by the following formula:

No public spending is required for the build-up of alternative transport fuel infrastructure if the Member States use the wide range of measures available to mobilise private investment cost-efficiently.

With alternative fuels coming gradually into the market, savings on the oil bill are expected to increase to about € 2.3 billion per year in 2030, and another € 1 billion per year from dampening of price fluctuations through improved security of energy supply.

Build-up of alternative fuel infrastructure will contribute to economic growth and support job creation in a sector of growing importance for Europe and worldwide. This will improve the competitiveness of EU industry in the fields of alternative fuel technologies for all modes of transport – in particular the automotive and shipping industries.

The build-up of a European alternative fuel infrastructure will allow for free movement of goods and persons, with vehicles running on alternative fuels across the whole EU. This will facilitate the development of a single EU market for alternative fuels which will permit the industry to benefit from economies of scale.


Alternative Fuels - What they are and what they are used for

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or autogas is a by-product derived from oil refining and natural gas processing. Bio-LPG derived from various biomass sources is expected to emerge as a viable technology in the medium to long term. LPG can be used for road transport (for cars, and trucks) for all range of distances. It can be also used for waterborne transport for inland as well as for short-sea shipping.

Natural gas

Natural Gas and Biomethane can be used in the forms of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Gas-To-liquid (GTL).

Natural gas and biomethane are considered as a single fuel (CH4 methane). It can be sourced from fossil natural gas or from biomass and wastes as biomethane.

CNG can be used for all road vehicles over short and medium distances.

LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is appropriate for waterborne transport, trucks and rail.

GTL (Gas-To-Liquid) can be used to produce a synthetic fuel with the same technical characteristics of conventional fuels. For this reason it is fully compatible with existing combustion engines and fuel infrastructure.


Already widely used for railways, electricity can also power road cars and vans in urban areas and short distances. Electricity provides clear advantages as alternative transport fuel and is world-wide recognized as one of the more promising options for the future. The electricity grid already exists and only charging stations remain to be developed.


Biofuels can be produced from a wide range of biomass feedstock. Liquid biofuels technically can be used for propulsion in all transport modes and can be used with existing power train technologies, for certain biofuels with minor technical modifications, and existing re-fuelling infrastructures in various blending ratios depending on biofuel types. Biofuels are used blended up to 10% for bioethanol and 7% for biodiesel.


Hydrogen is the most abundant element in nature. As an energy carrier it can be produced from any source (fossil, renewable, nuclear). Electricity from renewable sources can be used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis, thus introducing renewables into the transport energy chain. The cheapest method for volume production is by steam reforming natural gas. Hydrogen and fuel cell can be used for short and medium distances for cars and buses.


1 : Source: (data relating to 2010)

2 : Transport White Paper 2011

3 : Volkswagen Fuel Strategy. See Annex 1

4 : Data for the year 2010. Eurostat.

5 : OECD Green Growth Papers 2012-03: Market Development for Green Cars.

6 : Source: Cars21 (

7 : LNG Blue Corridors project under the 7th Framework Programme, Sustainable Surface Transport Priority, Green Cars Initiative. The project is pending on final Commission approval.

8 : See definitions at back of this memo for quick guide to the different fuels and main uses.

9 : Proven reserves:185.02 trillions of cubic meters (BP statistical review 2009)

10 : A potential of 60 Mtoe of biogas from energy crops is identified in the European Environment Agency report No 7 (2006)

11 : Report of the Expert Group of Future Transport Fuels

12 : Report of the Expert Group of Future Transport Fuels

13 : The fact that market penetration of alternative fuels requires the build-up of the appropriate infrastructure was also recognised by the CARS 21 High Level Group on the Competitiveness and Sustainable Growth of the Automotive Industry in the European Union in its recent report

14 : Impact Assessment accompanying document to the Legislative proposal on Alternative Fuels Infrastructure with some posterior adaptations from AVERE.

15 : Shipping's airborne emissions are regulated in ANNEX VI, in MARPOL 73/78 (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships). In October 2008, the IMO adopted the more restrictive limit values for sulphur in marine fuels (i.e. 0.1% sulphur content limit by weight on Jan. 2015). In addition, according to the Marine Fuel Sulphur Directive (1999/32/EC, Art.4 with Amendment as per Directive 2005/33/EC) the sulphur content in marine gasoil within the territorial waters of a Member States Member States of the EU (Baltic Sea, North Sea, English Channel) may not exceed 0.1% by weight, applicable to all vessels regardless of flags - link

16 : Source: Natural Gas Vehicle Association Europe.

Source: European Commission