The world’s largest auto market is also the world’s biggest energy consumer and emitter of greenhouse gases – so Chinese authorities are increasingly desperate to find ways of fighting pollution.
While just a few years ago the Communist government had a ban in place over any talks about its growing problem, today the pollution can’t be shoveled under the mattress – for the simple fact that it’s become visible in broad daylight.
So, there was a broad scenario change – impose measures to address the problem. Just speaking about the auto industry measures, the authorities have imposed caps on new car sales registrations in some cities, want to take off the streets millions of rubbish, polluting, old cars and promote the “new energy” vehicles – plug-in hybrids and electrics.
But the latter segment has not been catching up among consumers, because of the high prices and lack of proper charging infrastructure. Now, there’s another alternative to the gasoline and diesel burning engines – compressed or liquefied natural gas.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, by 2020, there will be 3.8 million cars, trucks and buses in China that use the alternate fuel, which is almost double the current number.
“Natural gas vehicles have significant growth potential in China because they’re more economical than conventional models and because the government is committed to fighting pollution,” said Ricky Wang, an analyst at ICIS-C1 Energy. “Gas demand from the transport sector is booming.”
The gas is 30% cheaper than diesel, and also emits 32% less polluting substances, while the country already has in place a network of almost 5,000 natural gas fuel stations and a $400 billion gas import deal with Russia.