Flavio Merigo, President of Assogasmetano: Italy is leading a strong policy in support of bio-methane
Flavio Merigo believes that bio-methane is the only effective and current alternative to fuels causing the most pollution. Zero Emission Vehicle status must be recognized for bio-methane vehicles as well as promoting the same incentives now enjoyed by electric vehicles
Italy should focus on a decisive policy of support for bio-methane, a fuel available in large quantities that Italy is also capable of producing. A forward-thinking vision must also be launched on a European scale to ensure the development of an energy transition paradigm based on the effective capacities of individual member states. The President of Assogasmetano, Flavio Merigo, is convinced of this approach. He feels that stubborn promotion of electric vehicles in Europe is based on an assumption that is as simple as it is wrong, namely the idea that battery-powered vehicles are zero-emission. “The proposal to cut CO2 emissions for cars by 55% by 2030 means the European Commission will go back on what it said in recent years” about the future of transport, says Merigo. He defines the European position as “completely unreal” and recalls that “battery disposal is one of the major problems we have to face”. The President of Assogasmetano also believes that it is impractical even to think of being able to switch drastically from one fuel system to another. “This is proven,” he adds, “by data in the last Ember’s Global Electricity Review where it emerges that no country in the world is currently able to meet increased demand for electricity with a reduction in emissions.” And this is in a context where China has begun building 45 new coal-fired power plant.
Faced with an important energy cost and the prospect of using hydrogen – which, however appealing it is, is still a long way off – Merigo suggests that bio-methane is the only effective and current alternative to fuels that cause the most pollution. “If Italy is one of the top producers of biogas, with the largest European network to transport it, why should we not focus emphatically on this fuel?” the President of Assogasmetano asks, recalling that “if we want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, we must understand which emissions are being produced” and that the European DAFI directive itself concluded that, in order to develop an appropriate alternative energy policy, detailed knowledge of detail the potential and characteristics of every country is vital. From this point of view, Assogasmetano feels that the first step to take is to recognize Zero Emission Vehicle status for bio-methane vehicles and promote the same incentives now available to electric vehicles. “Another aspect we are working on is hydrogen-methane blends,” Merigo explains, recalling that vehicles powered by natural gas today can also be powered by bio-methane without involving major modifications: “If we blend up to 30% hydrogen with methane or bio-methane, no further changes are needed,” Merigo points out, while inviting us to work in this direction, since hydrogen is seen as “the fuel of the future” while biogas is the alternative “of today”.
The debate over global energy demand is also linked with repercussions on prices, especially for gas, a “complex phenomenon” that Merigo suggests requires analysis from different points of view: energy, logistics and politics. Over the last year, between the first half of 2020 and the same period in 2021, China’s energy demand, for example, increased by 14%: a trend that, albeit with different figures, can be seen in all countries. And in several cases, there was no electricity rationing during periods of crisis. In addition, several countries have been unable to create emergency gas stocks – a shortcoming they are currently trying to overcome – while, on the other hand, the pandemic has seen a generalised reduction in fuel distribution. Last but not least, the President of Assogasmetano points out that, during the crisis, the downturn in the amount of methane distributed in Italy also contributed to a rise in prices: an issue that is also associated with the geopolitical context and equally involved fuel imports.