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VTG: Can Europe take steps to ensure its energy freedom and make the Green Deal possible both at the same time?

VTG: Can Europe take steps to ensure its energy freedom and make the Green Deal possible both at the same time?
photo: VTG press materials/VTG and LNG cooperation: Can Europe take steps to ensure its energy freedom and make the Green Deal possible both at the same time?
23 / 02 / 2022

As there is a need for climate-friendly innovations many companies are looking to get ahead in this race for less emission-heavy future. One of these possible changes is more focus on LNG (liquified natural gas). They know this also in VTG Rail Europe and so they made a rail car for safe transportation of LNG.

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The European Parliament and the Council of the EU that in April 2021 raised the EU’s GHG reduction target for 2030 and GHG neutrality by 2050 was for the first time anchored in the EU level law.

The majority of the world is still heavily utilizing fossil fuels and so the transformation to a less emission system will need a highly innovative advancement in technology. LNG could serve as one of the future sources of energy that would help with reaching the European Green Deal goals. However, not every country can produce it on its soil and therefore a good logistical network is needed. And as the railway industry is now focused on green technology more than ever, it is a great choice for climate-friendly transportation of LNG, compared to pipelines and truck transportation.

LNG drives already see some use as replacements for diesel in trucks or even in ship transportation. And using rail would save a lot of emissions. At one model scenario via a rail link between Leuna, Germany, and Bucharest, Romania, two tank cars, each with a 42-t payload, carry six cryogenically liquefied LNG consignments a month. A total of 504 t of LNG is thus transported each month. As trucks are limited to a maximum load of 30 t on this 1650-km journey, it would take 17 trucks to carry the same volume by road. As a result, 831 600 tkm of freight can be transferred from road to rail every month, working out at 9.98 million tkm/y.

First LNG terminal is scheduled to go into service in Brunsbüttel on Germany’s North Sea coast, about 90 km from Hamburg. Working with Chart Ferox and Waggonbau Graaff, VTG has become the first (and to date only) company in the rail sector to design, develop and build a tank car specifically to carry LNG across Europe by bypassing the shipping routes, road networks and pipelines. This innovative freight wagon was unveiled already in 2015.

This tank car has a special suspension and bearing technology to ensure the safety of the cargo. It is also equipped with a special form of insulation that can keep the required temperature of -162°C both during filling and transportation. One of these LNG tanks has a volume of 111 m3 and can carry about 95 – 100 m3of cargo at the specified filling temperature. That is about as much as 600 000 kWh per wagon.

Two of these railcars can replace five truckloads of LNG. Not only can it reduce emissions but also the costs of transit and it is a safer transportation method compared to the road. This makes rail perfect for long-range transportation, while the road can service the so-called first and last mile.

In September 2021, VTG tested the transportation of LNG in this special-purpose tank car. Loaded at Brunsbüttel Port GmbH and transported to 800 km away proved that safe and sustainable rail LNG transportation is possible.

Some regulatory changes are needed to fully implement this innovative idea. Europe can either stay dependent on the pipelines or make the correct steps, like building LNG terminals, to ensure more energy freedom for its citizens.