Stories that Will Leave Our MarkNGV, on the road to sustainable mobility

NGV, on the road to sustainable mobility

Most economic sectors in Colombia need to move their goods in the national territory. Such cargo requires efficient and high-quality transportation, and natural gas vehicles are a suitable partner for fulfilling this objective.
  • Transmilenio urban bus with label of GNV (natural gas vehicle).

    50 % of the fleet of TransMilenio, the mass transport system of Bogotá, is powered by natural gas

  • Transmilenio urban bus with label of GNV (natural gas vehicle).

    50 % of the fleet of TransMilenio, the mass transport system of Bogotá, is powered by natural gas

  • Transmilenio urban bus with label of GNV (natural gas vehicle).

    50 % of the fleet of TransMilenio, the mass transport system of Bogotá, is powered by natural gas

In our country, the use of natural gas vehicles (NGV) has been constantly growing. The results are clear: Colombia is among the top 10 worldwide and in second place in Latin America.

The fact is that compared to the emissions of a vehicle powered by diesel fuel, compressed natural gas offers reductions of close to 100 % in 2.5 particulate matter, a reduction of more than 75 % in nitrogen dioxide, and of between 20 % and 30 % in carbon dioxide.

“For many years, companies in the natural gas industry have provided incentives to end users to install the gas conversion kits at workshops, and as a result there are currently over 600,000 converted vehicles. Also, starting in 2018, new transportation technologies that receive cleaner fuels began to arrive in Colombia, and they are now very well positioned. There are now more than 3,000 vehicles driving on our roads with technologies that exclusively use natural gas, under well-tested brands such as Sinotruk, Scania, Faw, Kenworth, Fiat, among others,” highlights Silvia Fernanda Ordóñez, leader of Cities and Mobility at TGI.

The executive mentioned that between 2018 and 2019 these advancements acquired more importance in the mass passenger transport system of Bogotá, TransMilenio, and currently over 50 % of its fleet is powered by NGV.

Companies that provide heavy cargo transportation services are also taking the lead in offering efficient services, and have included dedicated NGVs, because industries in several sectors seek to increase their efficiency through solutions that prevent pollution, thereby making them more competitive.

“The latest book by Bill Gates is on how to prevent a climate disaster. He says that we all need to begin to work together to achieve global neutrality in emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.” Edgardo Espinosa Martínez, Commercial VP of Bidding and Contracts of OPL Carga.

One of these companies, a pioneer committed to making the transition from diesel fuel to natural gas powered vehicles, is OPL Carga. “In mid-2018, we carried out a controlled pilot test with two tractor trailers we acquired of the Faw make: we tested the technology, the trucks’ performance, we assessed how they behaved in Colombia’s geography, roads, customers and products. The commitment was that if they fulfilled the minimum requirements we established, that same year we would acquire three more, and we effectively did so,” said Edgardo Espinosa Martínez, Commercial VP of Bidding and Contracts of OPL Carga.

Currently this company, with 14 years of experience, has a fleet of approximately 50 trucks designed to run with natural gas, and will soon receive 15 more. Now they only have five diesel trucks in their fleet, and they say they will be replaced within one year.

The executive explains that before deciding on making the transition, they spent almost one year and a half reviewing the technologies available in the world and gas supplies in Colombia. “It was a complex process, because we were the first to adopt this technology, obviously with support from the gas distributors in Colombia, including Vanti, Gases de Occidente, Gases del Caribe and Surtigas, which facilitated a review of supplies, prices, the service stations that could fuel the vehicles quickly and that our tractor trailers could enter easily, because they are approximately 17 meters long,” he narrates.

The fleet of OPL Carga includes small and large tractor trailers. The former are designed to carry containers mainly with imported products, but also some local products such as paper and cardboard. The latter transport dry bulk goods such as steel, coal, construction materials and packaged cement, among others.

“We also ship liquid cargo, and even refrigerated cargo. So, we serve over 80 % of the country’s economic sectors,” explained the Commercial VP of Bidding and Contracts.

The executive explained that several benefits have been derived from the acquisition of natural gas technology. For starters, the vehicles dedicated to natural gas for vehicles are exempt from VAT. Also, as an added value for their customers, these vehicles are not subject to the traffic restrictions at peak hours or to environmental restrictions, because they use clean fuel.

“Additionally, the agents of the natural gas value chain provide bonuses as an incentive to substitute diesel for low-emissions fuels, as is the case of NGV. We submit forecasts and we receive certain contributions per vehicle,” said Espinosa.

Another success story

Teca Transportes provides services to the hydrocarbons, food products, construction materials and raw material industries. Since late 2019, this company began to acquire vehicles powered by natural gas, which began operations in January 2020.

“We have gas-powered tractor-trailers of the Scania brand, dedicated to two types of transport: of beer between Cundinamarca and Boyacá, and of cement between Antioquia and Bucaramanga,” explained the administrative manager, Henry Cárdenas.

According to Naturgas, as of year-end 2020, there were over 3,000 heavy vehicles designed to run with natural gas on Colombian roads.

When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of NGVs, the executive of Teca Transportes mentioned that gas has meant savings of 7.5 % compared to diesel. Even though diesel vehicles can be refueled every 700 kilometers, whereas NGVs vehicles need to be refueled every 450 kilometers, there are still savings.

“There are significantly less administrative issues, because we do not have to control gas consumption by the drivers as much as with diesel. The gas can’t be resold, as is the case with diesel oil (ACPM, for the Spanish original). This has been helpful in terms of administration. Another advantage is not having traffic restrictions in Bogotá, and that is an added value for the customer,” Henry Cárdenas explained, who is also the Chairman of Fedetranscarga, and who added that Teca plans to make additional investments to pursue this line of economy and efficiency.

With all this, and the evident contribution to reducing pollution indicators for Colombians, and in order to continue highlighting these features, “TGI and the other agents of the natural gas value chain in Colombia, i.e., the gas producers and distributors, have joined efforts to promote the use of NGV in transportation through incentives that facilitate this decision for end users. They are open to the end users, both for conversions through certified workshops, and through the incorporation of vehicles dedicated to gas in their fleets,” concludes Silvia Fernanda Ordóñez, leader of Cities and Mobility at TGI.