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EU alternative energy infrastructure

Lack of infrastructure as a market barrier

In January 2013 the European Commission published a proposal for a Directive on the deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure in the EU. The European Commission regards the lack of such infrastructure as well as the lack of common technical specifications for the related interface as important barriers to the market introduction of alternative fuels like hydrogen, electricity and natural gas. If adopted, the proposal would oblige Member States to build up a minimum infrastructure for alternative fuels like LNG.

Network of LNG refuelling points

If adopted, the above proposal would require Member States to build LNG refuelling points in all maritime and inland waterway ports and along the motorways of the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) Core Network. All in all, the proposal obliges 139 maritime and inland ports to install an LNG “refuelling point,” defined as:

 

“a provision of LNG, either through a physically established pump connected to fixed or mobile installations (including vehicles and vessels) or through a movable LNG container.

 

The TEN-T Core Network encompasses the main European traffic flows and can result in network advantages. According to the original proposal, the network of refuelling points in maritime ports should be operational by the end of 2020. By the end of 2025, LNG refuelling points should also be available in all inland ports. According to the EC, in the long term LNG refuelling infrastructure should not be limited to ports within this Core Network, but should also be made available at ports elsewhere in the EU.

Technical specifications

Besides developing alternative fuel infrastructure networks, the EC proposal also focuses on the implementation of common technical specifications. For LNG refuelling points for waterborne vessels, the proposal prescribes basing any further standardisation activities on ISO TC67/WG10. Refuelling points for inland as well as seagoing vessels must comply with the relevant European standards, to be adopted by 2014 or 31 December 2015 at the latest.

Status of the proposal

In March 2014, the EU Council and Parliament reached an informal first reading agreement on the EU Clean Fuel Strategy. Compared to the original proposal, the deadlines for realisation of the infrastructure have been extended by five years, to the end of 2025 for maritime ports and to the end of 2030 for inland waterway ports. Following this decision, the agreement still needs to be approved by the Parliamentary Transport Committee as well as the Parliament itself and, later, by the European Council.

Further reading

Environmental legislation

LNG is a proven technology for complying with the upcoming MARPOL Annex VI regulations. At the moment, LNG is the only available option that is able to meet both the SECA and NECA requirements without the need for using marine gas oil.