Brussels seminar 2016

Alternative fuels with a cross-border perspective – The Nordic Example

In essence, alternative fuel consumption and alternative fuel vehicle ownership comes down to total cost of ownership. To speed up the shift and increase decarbonisation we need policies on local, national and EU level that reduces total cost of ownership. This was the message from the participants when GREAT together with Region Skåne and Region Västra Götaland arranged a seminar in Brussels on the 9th of November 2016. A whole day of discussions on alternative fuels was arranged at Norway House. Starting with a HyER seminar in the morning, followed by a common networking lunch and ending with the GREAT seminar in the afternoon.


Pontus Lindberg, Joakim Larsson and Steen Bach Nielsen
Pontus Lindberg, Joakim Larsson and Steen Bach Nielsen

The seminar, moderated by Jakob Lagercrantz, started with welcome speeches by Pontus Lindberg, Development Committee Second Deputy at Region Skåne, Joakim Larsson, Regional Council Chairman at Region Västra Götaland and Steen Bach Nielsen, Regional Council Member at Region Zeeland and STRING Chairman. They all stressed the Regional perspective and the importance of looking at regional and national differences when creating support structures for alternative fuels. To gain success it is also important to work together, both public and private as well as cross border, something GREAT is a very good example of. The trio of GREAT politicians where all convinced that we must work for a fossil free future and that regions are strong drivers for the development.

Keynote – Helmut Morsi, DG Move

Mr. Morsi talked on the TEN-T network and CEF calls, especially from an alternative fuels point of view. CEF calls support market-sided innovation enabling sustainable transport and fighting climate change but also contributing to jobs and growth. Right now support is mainly focused on filling geographical gaps in infrastructure for EV charging, LNG and H2. Looking forward: the first ultra-charging networks has just gotten support. For H2 the focus is moving into the heavy transports and for LNG the focus is on the vehicles as well sea transports. Important to remember is to understand that all alternative fuels will support each other’s growth. Internal competition only weakens the alternative fuels position. The message from Mr. Morsi is ”Don’t fight each other!”.


Helmut Morsi giving his key note
Helmut Morsi

The Commission’s position on bio-fuels is that going bio, whenever possible, creates a real advantage. Production will allow regional solutions depending on geographical conditions while complying with EU and national legislation. Mr. Morsi stressed the fact that directives have to be respected.

Session 1 – BioLNG and BioMethane

In the first session of the day the panel discussed BioLNG and BioMethane. The interest for using LNG in heavy transports is increasing and the Nordics have long experience from using BioMethane for sustainable transports. Björn Fredriksson Möller, Project Manager at E.ON Biofor and Bo Ramberg, CEO at FordonsGas talked about the history of CNG in Sweden and the shift to using BioMethane as a fuel option. Today Sweden have a well built up CNG infrastructure and a mixed in percentage of 50-70% BioMethane in vehicle CNG. Something Swedish stakeholders also want to apply for the LNG infrastructure.


Björn Fredriksson Möller, Bo Ramberg, Lars Holmqvist, Jakob Lagercrantz, Rolf Willkrans and Joakim Larsson
Björn Fredriksson Möller, Bo Ramberg, Lars Holmqvist, Jakob Lagercrantz, Rolf Willkrans and Joakim Larsson

Lars Holmqvist, Public Affairs at Göteborg Energi also contributed some experiences from BioMethane production at their GoBiGas plant. Lars stressed the importance of communicating the positive side effects of BioMethane production.

  • Reduced oil dependency creates a better security of supply for Europe.
  • A steady source of bio fertilizer from BioMethane production enables more sustainable farming to satisfy the growing demand for organic food products.
  • BioMethane represents a true circular economy and should be viewed in this light.
  • European competitiveness is strengthened from supporting industrial development in this field, where China still is far behind.
  • BioMethane creates local jobs in the energy sector and keeps production revenue within the EU.

Rolf Willkrans, ‎Director Environmental Affairs at Volvo Group Headquarters re-announced the Volvo message that the 460 hp Volvo MethaneDiesel Euro VI truck will be on offer in 2018. This is a long-haul LNG truck that uses a small amount of diesel to ignite the LNG. At the same time he stressed that commercial vehicles are used in commercial conditions. A move to non-fossil fuels will come when profitability levels are viable.

The panel discussion was joined by Joakim Larsson, Regional Council Chairman at Region Västra Götaland. All agreed that there is a need for ambitious, long term targets. The DAFI directive is a good start to help building markets for alternative fuels but it’s important that the national action plans are ambitious as well. When it comes to bio-fuels the Commission needs to recognise the benefits and potentials, not just its limitations like what is communicated on generation one. It’s also important to allow for local variations in substrates and the possibility of setting more ambitious targets for renewables.

In the discussion Volvo emphasised the focus on total cost of ownership and the fact that the shift will come when the business is viable. Mr. Morsi commented this from the audience by saying that we can spend all our time discussing the “chicken and egg” problem. The Commission and the private LNG providers are financing LNG infrastructure: now let’s see the trucks!

Session 2 – Alternative fuels and behavioural change

The second seminar of the day focused on alternative fuels in general and behavioural change. The Nordic countries are at the forefront in the shift towards alternative fuels, enabling decarbonisation. This seminar discussed the factors that have been a success and what needs to be done to keep up the speed of the shift.


Jon Halvard Eide, Pontus Lindberg, Eva Næss Karlsen, Hugues Van Honacker, Jarkko Ahlbom, Christian Halleløv and Elisabetta Cherchi
Jon Halvard Eide, Pontus Lindberg, Eva Næss Karlsen, Hugues Van Honacker, Jarkko Ahlbom, Christian Halleløv and Elisabetta Cherchi

Hugues Van Honacker, Senior Expert at DG Move and responsible for writing the Directive on the Deployment of Alternative Fuels Infrastructure (DAFI), talked on the status of the National Action Plans due on the 18th of November. So far only the Czech Republic had submitted but Mr. Van Honacker was confident to get all submissions given some time. The Commission will then have one year to assess and will return to the Member States by the end of 2017.

Jarkko Ahlbom, Zero Emission Strategy Manager at Nissan Nordic Europe talked about the Nissan success story in Norway with some 25 000 Leaf sold. The number one factor for the shift in Norway has been establishing favourable market conditions by lowering total cost of ownership. What the Norwegian example shows is that when incentives are sufficient the shift comes quickly. The second biggest threshold, range, is also diminishing fast with the help of both new charging infrastructure, battery development and vehicle innovation.

Christian Halleløv, ‎Development Manager, e-mobility solutions at E.ON Denmark described the Danish E.ON story with charging infrastructure and their comprehensive network that stems from the company Better Place. Unfortunately the development in Denmark is moving the wrong way at the moment with decreased support to EV’s from the national government that has led to very low sales.

Eva Næss Karlsen, Special Advisor, Department of Environment and Transport at the City of Oslo described how Oslo has worked to meet the ambitious targets set by the city politicians. Following the progress and checking off the objectives they have, give them full control of the development and encourage them to find new solutions. As from 2017 Olso will have a climate budget as a part of the ordinary budget. The incentives for EV’s in Oslo has been such a success that they have now reached a point where some of them has to be scaled down, such as driving in the bus lane.

Elisabetta Cherchi, Professor of Transport at Newcastle University showed her research on getting people to shift to EV’s and the thresholds for this behavioural change. The impact of attitudes, positive and negative info as well as social conformity when making the purchase decision should not be underestimated. In fact, norms prevent us from change!

Jon Halvard Eide, Adviser NSC Transport group at The North Sea Commission ended by giving a status report on alternative fuel in public transport services among North Sea Commission members. All members are committed to the shift but have different approaches, something the NSC survey can use to spread examples and recommendations.

In the panel discussion, joined by Pontus Lindberg, Development Committee Second Deputy at Region Skåne, all agreed that developments are moving in the right direction in many areas, although general progress is still much too slow. The most important is for the Commission to recognise that there is still a need for support, both on a policy and on a financial level.

The project manager for GREAT, Britt Karlsson Green summarised the seminar by referencing the other big event of the day: the US election. She urged all not to be discouraged by the results and slow development. We all have to work even harder and say to ourselves and each other “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”