This Issue Brief examines the conditions for the development of biomethane in French road transport. Beyond the question of the availability of this energy and the environmental conditions of its production, the analysis focuses on the kinetics and the drivers of the industrial transformation and of the offer of heavy vehicles running on bioNGV.

Key Messages

  • The continuation of the use of methane in road transport can only be conceived by a transition to 100% biomethane, in a time frame that is reasonable to place around 2030, as foreseen by the French Association of Natural Gas Vehicles (AFGNV) sector plan.
  • Biomethane has significant development potential in the transport sector as a replacement for fossil CNG and diesel, mainly for buses and coaches, as well as a share of long-distance truck transport for uses that will not be covered in the immediate future by the electric offer (which is also set to develop massively).
  • However, the objective or strategic economic constraints and difficulties for manufacturers to propose and maintain a competitive offer that complies with future requirements (EU CO2 standard or EURO standard) in the medium to long term and which, moreover, would make industrial sense at the European level constitute a limiting factor that will determine whether or not this solution will take off and will largely determine its long-term potential.
  • However, the scenario obtained must be compared with other perspectives that will play either in its favor or against it, namely the "all-impact" environmental balance (not limited to greenhouse gas emissions) and on the whole life cycle (which may be less and less favorable as biomethane production grows towards an industrialized model integrating intermediate crops for energy purposes), or the economic balance of bioGNV, on the one hand for users (price volatility), and on the other hand from the point of view of the budgetary capacities of the State to support the sector to keep it competitive.
  • IDDRI's scenario leads to a market share of newly registered bioNGV-compatible trucks in France of around 2.5% in 2030 and a consumption of the fleet of trucks, buses and coaches that reaches an asymptote of around 10 TWh in 2030 (i.e., about 25 times more than the consumption in 2021, but very significantly less than the current National Low-Carbon Strategy scenarios)
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