The e-petrol.pl portal published a conversation with Bartosz Kwiatkowski, director general of the Polish LPG Organization, summarizing the largest LPG industry event in 2023, which ended on November 17. - LPG Week in Rome.
e-petrol.pl: What were the leading topics of the debates of representatives of the global LPG industry - do global problems differ from our European and Polish specifics? What was the focus?
BartoszKwiatkowski:It is worth noting that the issues that representatives of the European LPG industry are currently dealing with are primarily different from those that the sector faces in other regions of the world. In Asia, South America and Africa, LPG, as the most affordable alternative fuel, has become an energy carrier for combating energy poverty and improving air quality, as recognized by the International Energy Agency in its World Energy Outlook and A Vision for Clean Cooking Access for All reports.
In Europe, we are grappling with other issues, in particular the next elements of the Fit for 55 package, but the accents in Poland and Western EU countries are differently distributed. In Poland, ¾ of the LPG market is the autogas segment, and it is through the prism of the future of low-emission transportation that we look at LPG. In Western Europe, however, it is used primarily for heating purposes and in the petrochemical industry. There is currently a lively discussion in the Old European countries of Germany, France and the UK about the use of renewable LPG in residential heating systems. Multitudes of Europeans in rural areas do not have access to a cost-acceptable alternative to LPG, which is why it is so important for renewable LPG to remain part of the energy policy of EU member states in the 2050 perspective, as one of the important energy carriers ensuring, alongside electricity or biomethane, the economically efficient decarbonization of the economy. The European liquefied petroleum gas industry is currently making every effort to ensure that biopropane or renewable dimethyl ether are recognized by European institutions, which would provide them with a stable legal environment and the possibility of developing production in Europe, and thus independence from non-EU supplies.
Wasthere much talk during the deliberations and meetings in the context of another sanctions package preventing LPG imports from the Russian Federation?
The issue of LPG sanctions is practically a local topic for Central and Eastern Europe, since only Poland and the Baltic States import LPG in significant quantities from the Russian Federation (Russian Federation). For Western countries Russian imports-other than in the case of natural gas-are of marginal importance, so this was not an important theme of LPG Week in Rome.
Have there been any new technological ideas, perhaps, that are not being talked about in Poland in the context of using liquefied petroleum gas?
Technologyaround the liquefied petroleum gas industry is developing extremely rapidly. The greatest significance will certainly be the spread of liquefied petroleum gas from renewable sources, and we are not only talking about biopropane - which is also already produced in Poland by the Ekobenz company. Great hopes are also pinned on the production of renewable dimethyl ether, which is a molecule known and widely used in the cosmetics or construction industries, among others, but only recently considered as a promising fuel that can be blended with traditional LPG to a level of about 15-20 percent without any technological modifications, and whose production is easy to scale up. A demonstration plant producing DME from municipal waste will soon be launched in the UK.Technological innovations also include new segments where LPG is used. In the context of new European pollution standards for marine fuels, more marine vessels are entering service powered by LPG as a fuel that is easy to bunker and store, for example.The Baltic Sea would be a very interesting basin for the development of LPG-powered shipping. In the United States, on the other hand, new engines are being developed for trucks and special vehicles powered solely by LPG. The U.S. is the world's largest producer and exporter of LPG, and converting heavy-duty road vehicles from diesel to LPG would dramatically reduce emissions of particulate matter and other pollutants from transportation. For the same reason, LPG-powered generators that are environmentally friendly, cheap to operate and indispensable in unstable energy supplies or natural disasters are becoming widespread.Also interesting, albeit only being tested, is the use of LPG as a storage medium for hydrogen produced by electrolysis. As we know, hydrogen is a gas that is technically very difficult to store due to its physical and chemical properties, hence unless pipeline transport is possible - for its large-scale storage and transport in the future it will have to be bound into the form of ammonia, methanol, or perhaps just propane or dimethyl ether.
Did the Polish LPG industry have significant representation at the combined global-European event?
Polishcompanies were prominent in Rome as exhibitors, but, very pleasingly, a veritable throng of Polish visitors also showed up. Interest was fostered by convenient connections to Rome and the sheer attractiveness of the LPG Week location. In my opinion, this bodes well for the European LPG Congress, which Liquid Gas Europe plans to hold in Poland in 2025. After all, the LPG industry is pressure vessels, autogas installations, fittings, pumps, telemetry and much more, in which Polish entrepreneurs have much to offer the world.
Was there talk of any changes resulting from climate policy that Polish entrepreneurs involved in the LPG market should be aware of?
Ahead of the industry is the implementation of the entire package of solutions related to the European Green Deal. Since the European Commission presented the first tranche of solutions in 2021, work on this package is a very important part of the activities of the Polish LPG Organization. Among other things, I would like to draw particular attention to the inclusion of LPG sales in the transport and heating market under the emissions trading scheme, which will require distributors to implement monitoring and reporting ofCO2 emissions. Much is happening in the heating market: Germany's recent district heating law creates a benchmark for both European and national district heating regulation, introducing a mandatory share of renewable energy sources for district heating systems and requiring local governments to implement fossil fuel phase-out plans.
While we in Poland are in the process of implementing the second Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), another REDIII has recently been passed, which tightens RES targets for member countries. LPG with a blend of bio-components is already being sold in Western European countries, and will soon reliably appear in Poland as well.
It is also worth keeping a close eye on the work on the new directive on the energy performance of buildings and on the ecodesign regulation, where - violating the principle of technological neutrality - a coalition of manufacturers and distributors of electric heating equipment, activists and radical politicians is doing everything to ensure a monopoly in the district heating market for compressor heat pump technology. The list of LPG market legislation currently undergoing changes at the European level can give you a headache. There are also, among other things, new rules for the labeling of gas cylinders (the so-called CLP regulation) or the demand for a ban on the use of Teflon. I can only appeal to follow the European regulations diligently, because not infrequently by the time they get to national implementation it is too late to influence their fundamental shape.