Small-scale LNG, growth boosts with the heavy-duty transport.
5 Feb 2020 - ConferenzaGNL
REF-E’s SSLNG Watch 2019 annual report is now available.
2020-2023 is crucial for ultimate success.
Milan 05/02/2020 – The use of liquefied natural gas in Italy goes on in its various sectors of use: heavy and light transport, maritime, rail, aerospace, industries and isolated city networks. Overall, the number of plants equipped with small LNG depots rises from 70 in 2018 to 107 at the end of 2019. Growth is driven by the acceleration in the construction of service stations and the number of trucks in service.
The data provided by the annual report of the economic-energy research centre REF-E on the small scale LNG SSLNG Watch 2019 confirm and increase for Italy the European record in heavy transport, third in the world, after China and the United States, with 70 active distributors (38 in 2018, 15 in 2017).
65 service stations were supplying LNG to trucks and compressed natural gas to cars at the end of last year, to which 5 company distributors should be added. To these must be added 10 distributors with LNG that supply only compressed natural gas to cars and one company distributor for public transport.
Three more public service stations, which have not yet been reviewed, were inaugurated in January 2020, confirming REF-E’s growth forecasts, which currently see about 25 plants authorised and under construction and about 40 under authorisation or contract.
At the end of 2019, the number of LNG truck registrations doubled compared to 2018, which is 2,174; REF-E estimates the total number to be approximately 2,500, including foreign registrations. The consumption forecasts for transport show a growth of 290% by 2023 up to about 190.00 tons per year; for LNG vaporized for cars up to about 58,000 t/a for a total of 248,000 t/a. In 2019 the cost of LNG was about 40% lower than diesel fuel.
In the industrial sector there were 5 new plants in operation in 2019, rising from 19 in 2018 to 24, with 2 remaining plants serving isolated networks. The consumption forecasts for the civil and industrial sectors are conditioned by the hypothesis of development of the methanization of Sardinia subject to the partial or total construction of the “Sardinian backbone”.
The methanization of Sardinia, which will take place with the importation of LNG into the island, could bring civil consumption to about 10,000 t/y, while industrial users, also conditioned by Sardinian developments, could reach 22,000 t/y in the most conservative estimates, for a national total of about 32,000 t/y.
ConferenzaGNL points out that these developments have taken place despite the serious supply crises caused by the strikes in France. Marseille remains at the moment the essential source of LNG supply for Italy, with more than 95% of supplies, difficult to replace and in any case with serious economic consequences for operators.
REF-E is keeping a close eye on the ongoing infrastructure initiatives that will lead to security of supply, which is essential for further growth, especially in the maritime sector, where it is still not possible for LNG ships circulating in the Mediterranean to refuel in Italian ports, for structural but also regulatory reasons.
The planned start by 2022 of small-scale supplies from the OLT regasification plant off the coast of Livorno, the completion of the Higas depots in Santa Giusta-Oristano, which will be the entry point for LNG in Sardinia but will also be available for the supply of ships, the Edison-Pir depot in Ravenna and Snam‘s initiatives for the use of LNG from the Panigaglia (La Spezia) regasification plant and other announced coastal depot initiatives appear to be able to permanently solve the problem.
In December 2019, 9 LNG ships were active in the Mediterranean, including large cruise ships that can be supplied by tankers, and ferries that can be supplied from piers with tankers, as used for traditional fuels. So far only one is a container ship. By 2022 REF-E foresees the arrival of 10 more LNG ships with an overall consumption forecast between 10,000 and 15,000 t/y in Italy; in the more conservative hypothesis, however, consumption could increase to 125,000 t/y in 2025 and 250,000 t/y in 2030.
The summary of REF-E’s annual report will soon be available at https://www.ref-e.com/it/expertise/sslng-watch. The full report is available to subscribers but can be requested at https://www.ref-e.com/it.