Facilitating LNG Application in Landlocked Europe: An Overview of Potentials and Challenges
S. Pfoser, L. Simmer, G. Aschauer, O. Schauer - Facilitating LNG Application in Landlocked Europe: An Overview of Potentials and Challenges - International Gas Union Research Conference 2014 Proceedings, Kopenhagen, Denmark, 2014, pp. 810-820
The importance of natural gas as primary energy carrier is constantly increasing. In this context there is rising interest for LNG, Liquefied Natural Gas. The usage of LNG as fuel for marine and inland navigation and as road fuel is very promising. Furthermore, LNG can be used for industrial applications. In this context, small scale applications of LNG are getting popular. Smaller liquefaction capacities, smaller tankers and vessels distributing LNG and smaller storage and regasification facilities allow the widespread usage of LNG.
Nevertheless, there are some hurdles to be overcome to implement LNG extensively. The biggest barrier corresponds to the often-quoted chicken-and-egg-problem. Infrastructure for LNG technology is not very well developed at the moment, e.g. there are few LNG refueling stations. This can especially be seen in Central Europe. Potential consumers are restricted in the use of LNG therefore and they cannot prove their demand. But without demand, infrastructure will not be provided. Currently, there are a lot of initiatives and projects in order to break this vicious circle. For example, the European Commission requires and supports the construction of LNG bunker stations in all sea and inland ports along the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) as well as the placement of LNG refueling stations all over this transport network.
However, almost all of these programs refer to coastal areas. LNG application is already quite well known and common in countries like Spain, U.K., France, Belgium, Italy or Portugal. In contrast to this, the aim of this paper is to present the first findings of the evaluation of LNG potential in landlocked regions of Europe. This potential could be exploited by distributing LNG along the Rhine-Main-Danube axis to Central Europe as LNG is ideally suited for being transported by vessel. Benefits and opportunities of LNG usage in this territory should be demonstrated as well as challenges and threats. Hence an extensive literature research has been carried out as a first step. Further research comprises the assessment of different supply chain scenarios and an initial demand survey.
The results of the research study are strongly in favor of LNG application. LNG is not only providing ecological advantages but also economic ones. The ecological benefits are apparent as LNG is able to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions because it causes about 20% less CO2, 80-90% less NOx and almost zero PM and SOx. Economic merits include the diversification of the energy mix which leads to a reduction of the gas monopoly power. Nevertheless there are also several obstacles identified which inhibit the dissemination of LNG such as the above mentioned missing infrastructure for LNG. Furthermore there are also regulatory barriers. At present, LNG is classified as dangerous good and there is a separate permission needed to transport it on inland waterways therefore. On the whole, the necessary framework needs to be created urgently to break with the chicken-and-egg-situation described above and to enable Central European regions to participate in and profit from the high potential of LNG applications.