Gas Networks Ireland makes €2.9m available for road transport operators to choose cleaner fuel option

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Gas Networks Ireland Circle K Cashel

This week, Gas Networks Ireland launched a €2.9m Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Vehicle Grant scheme to support the purchase of up to 400 gas-powered trucks, buses and vans to help drive a more sustainable transport sector.

The Grant will cover 20% of the price premium on CNG and diesel-powered vehicles, capped at €5,000, with a maximum €60,000 available to any one applicant. Grants can be used towards the costs of vehicles registered from 2020.

Commenting on the Gas Networks Ireland’s CNG Program Delivery Manager, Declan O’Sullivan, said: “I would encourage Ireland’s fleet operators and hauliers to take advantage of these additional cost savings and choose this cleaner fuel option for their vehicles. Carbon neutral renewable gas made from food and agricultural waste which was first introduced onto the gas network in 2019 is structurally identical to renewable gas and can be used in exactly the same way through the existing infrastructure, technology and appliances. This means that as the volume of renewable gas on the network increases, vehicles fuelled by CNG will increasingly reduce their carbon footprint without needing to change a thing. Gas, natural today and renewable tomorrow, is the best alternative for the environment and the economy.”

The journey to cleaner (Heavy Good Vehicles) HGVs and buses – which make up  only 4% of vehicles on Irish roads but generate 30% of Ireland’s road transport emissions –  is challenging, because not only is the sector responsible for a disproportionate amount of transport emissions, but electricity is not a viable alternative to diesel in fuelling these long-haul vehicles.

CNG can reduce HGV well-to-wheel emissions by up to 23% (Cenex 2019) compared to diesel and deliver cost savings for operators of up to 35% (Cadent 2016). CNG is gas compressed to fit into a Natural Gas Vehicle’s (NGV) tank and is particularly suitable for use in commercial vehicles. It is a cleaner, affordable and proven alternative to diesel, and is beginning to play a major role in Ireland’s fuel mix.

Ireland’s CNG vehicle numbers growing more than 50% in 2020 as the number worldwide surpassed 28 million. However, CNG is just the first stop on our journey to decarbonising the transport sector. Gas Networks Ireland’s previous grant scheme supported the purchase of 40 vehicles across 23 companies including Virginia International Logistics.

Ray Cole, Transport Director with Virginia International Logistics explained the benefits of the investment made: “Receiving funding helped us to purchase six NGVs, reduce emissions and lower our fuel costs. As part of our ‘Green Logistics’ policy, introducing CNG fuelled vehicles is one of the ways we are reducing our carbon footprint. The customer demand for alternate fuel transport is also increasing as companies focus even more on having a lower carbon supply chain. Embracing CNG also contributed to Virginia International Logistics being previously awarded International Haulier of the Year and Irish Haulier of the Year at the Fleet Transport Magazine Awards.”

Gas Networks Ireland is developing a CNG refuelling network in partnership with Ireland’s forecourt operators and hauliers. There are CNG refuelling stations located at Circle K’s forecourts in Dublin Port and Cashel, with two more set to open in 2021 in Dublin and Limerick, another under construction in Cavan and a further eight in planning and development. Three private CNG stations are also in operation. The Department of Transport is set to announce its own scheme, the Alternatively-Fuelled HDV Purchase Grant Scheme, to further support the decarbonisation of the Irish transport sector.

“It is very encouraging that the Government recognises the potential and opportunity for alternatively fuelled vehicles,” Declan added.

The CNG Vehicle Fund is co-financed by the European Union’s TEN-T Programme under the Connecting Europe Facility as part of the Green Connect Project. Applications are now being accepted at www.gasnetworks.ie/cngvehiclegrant