LPG - Exceptional Energy 2013: getting better
The event was divided into four sessions – two per day. The first one, inaugurating the conference right after its official opening on March 6, was titled "Exceptional Times Require Exceptional Energy” and served mainly as an opportunity to summarise the year 2012 on the Polish LPG market and discuss preliminary plans and visions for future. And speaking of the future, dr Zbigniew Karaczun presented a glimpse into one of its possible versions with his speech about a Low-Emission Poland in 2050.
Session two, "Different Markets, Different Challenges”, was an overview of the European market from a more general perspective. Samuel Maubanc of the AEGPL (European LPG Association) discussed the latest EU regulations concerning liquefied gas and Rob Shuttleworth of the UKLPG (British LPG Association) spoke of the impact of EU directives on the British LPG market. Subsequent speeches provided insights into the world's largest autogas market – Turkey – and into Russia's LPG trading from the producer/exporter perspective. The first day ended with a gala dinner at the National Opera House.
The second day's sessions – "The Future of Autogas” and "Innovativeness – Case Studies” – were of particular interest to us. Opening the former, David Tyler of the WLPGA (World LPG Association) presented autogas as the world's most popular alternative fuel, which may sound proud, but also demonstrates how much remains to be done, as the 21 mln cars running on LPG across the globe today only account for 3% of vehicles. And even though many markets are expanding rapidly, South Korea – until recently the global leader in terms of autogas-powered cars number – has been undergoing regression lately and looking for a way to revive its market. Italy, on the other hand, has been a stable market – even though the "cash-for-clunkers” subsidy program is over and autogas-powered cars no longer enjoy preferential tax rates, demand remains high and new models equipped with LPG systems are coming to the market.
Some good news is coming from Poland, too. The quality of autogas available in the Polish distribution chain is gradually improving and the number of disapprovals from fuel quality inspectors is dropping by the year. Right now, autogas is the most reliable fuel available in Poland quality-wise. Still, as Dariusz Nowicki of Orlen Gaz pointed out, many potential new users perceive autogas as a low-quality fuel for old, clunky cars. Moreover, Polish drivers seem to keep loving diesels and their love for oil-burners (both new and pre-owned) grows.
The second day's and the entire conference's final session was quite optimistic, though, as it concentrated on the potential of new technological solutions and innovative LPG applications. Scott Littlewood of Cavagna Group listed a number of domestic and industrial machines that can run on LPG, including leaf blowers, ice resurfacers, etc. Subsequently, Vialle's Stefano Bertani spoke of the necessity to tighten cooperation between carmakers and autogas equipment manufacturers, so that new LPG systems are developed alongside new engines, not just trying catch up with them. Last but not least, Grzegorz Jarzyński of Elpigaz presented his company's diesel-gas blending system.
None of the conference's attendees needed convincing that LPG is exceptional energy that can be used to transform the lives of millions of people around the world (e. g. by replacing wood or charcoal with gas as domestic fuel in developing countries). The key to LPG's ongoing success, however, is to make the general public see the fuel's exceptionality and to keep exploring new applications for liquefied gas, including those with a „younger” image. The message in clear: there is huge potential, but let us not sit on our hands and stand in awe watching the sector passively or the chance will be lost. Luckily, there is strong motivation and will to act, so we can be confident about LPG's future.
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