Natural gas as motor fuel in Italy
Good to know
There are 880 thousand natural gas-powered vehicles on Italian roads. The number constitutes approx. 80% of all such vehicles in the European Union.
This is largely due to cars running on natural gas, whose sales (according do ANFIA's data) has reached 5,3% of all new car sales in Italy.
The market for natural gas as motor fuel in Europe started takin shape in the 1970s and 80's, when first cars were adapted to run on CNG in a retrofit manner. The it all took off, not without the help of the well-developed refueling infrastructure. The introduction of popular (small and compact) cars with factory natural gas conversions in the 1990s was an additional impulse.
The rapid growth of natural gas-powered vehicle numbers seen in recent years was caused by two primary factors. First of all, thanks to the lowered excise tax applied to methane as motor fuel and secondly, due to governmental incentive programs. These programs were in operation from 2008 until 2010 and applied to both newly purchased and already used NG-powered cars.
As a result, the number of methane cars rose by a whopping 68% since 2008 and the number of CNG refueling stations doubled over the same period of time. Limiting subsidies in 2010, combined with uneven distribution of stations across the map caused market development to slow down. Currently there are 1060 CNG stations in Italy, including 1010 publicly accessible ones.
Good to know
Monthly sales of natural gas (both compressed and liquefied) used as motor fuel in Italy is approx. 80 million m3.
Also, in Italy there are three LNG import terminals, although without tanker truck loading bays. As a result, transporting liquefied natural gas to stations offering CNG and/or LNG as motor fuel is conducted on a minor scale and the number of L-CNG (Liquefied to Compressed Natural Gas) stations is very limited. There are as few as 8 such stations across the country offering CNG coming from regasification of LNG. LNG for those stations is delivered with tanker trucks from Spain (primarily, but not only). Italy's latest LNG station was launched in April 2014 as part of the pan-European LNG Blue Corridors initiative, aiming to cover Europe with LNG stations for heavy transport use.
Compared to conventional fuels, natural gas enjoys some tax preferences in Italy (particularly in comparison with petrol, the taxation of which is among the highest in the European Union). This means using natural gas as fuel is not only "green”, but also economical – CNG is by 64% cheaper than petrol and by 57% cheaper than diesel.
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