Natural gas is currently the cleanest fuel/ engine fuel available on a commercial basis and in greater quantities in Norway. Natural gas consists mainly of methane (CH4), and is identical with pure biogas. The difference between natural gas and biogas is the age and that biogas is renewable, while natural gas is not. This means that CO2 emissions from natural gas must be included in our national emissions figures, while biogas is carbon neutral – even if the CO2 emissions from the biogas are the same as for natural gas. The biogas is in progress in Norway and is already available as a fuel in Oslo and Stavanger, while in Bergen and Trondheim this is not yet really started.
Experience from other countries (Sweden is the closest), is that the biogas takes advantage of the infrastructure (supply chain) that has been established by the natural gas and that biogas is taking market shares from the natural gas. This is a trend that is expected and wanted. However, biogas is a more limited resource than natural gas. It is also economically challenging to produce biogas of sufficient good quality and to transport it to the customers. Therefore, it is important that one seeks to sell biogas where there is a great willingness to pay and the highest climate benefits. Biogas used as fuel for buses and other commercial vehicles in major cities is therefore a natural segment of biogas.
Experience after nearly 20 years of general use of natural gas in Norway, shows that the natural gas all in all has replaced fossil energy with poorer environmental quality. Approximately 80 % of the natural gas has replaced oil products, while about 20 % has replaced the electric power and improved the energy balance of trade. Natural gas has thus both provided significant environmental benefits and increased the security of supply of energy.