Is a transition to mobility necessary? “It depends on the characteristics of the current vehicle fleet”, is often a generalised answer. This is where gas is often mentioned as a ‘transition fuel’.
It is in this sense that Juan Carlos Villalonga, president of Globe International, analyses: “Gas has already played a transitional role in Argentina since the 1990s. For the most part, liquid fuels have already been displaced, even in terms of mobility. From now on, any expansion of gas will be marginal, in fact, it would be a hindrance because we have to start investing in electric mobility.
This “job already done” was to allocate investments in infrastructure to supply the vehicle fleet that was being updated. Today in Latin America, countries are going through this process, but with charging for electric vehicles, and if it is with renewable energies, even more positive.
Therefore, “in countries where the technology is not developed or consolidated, it makes no sense to bet on gas because in 10 years it will be electric vehicles or even hydrogen, which will also require investments in charging stations”, says Villalonga in dialogue with Portal Movilidad.
Any technology requires a supply infrastructure deployment plan, therefore, it can be “negative” at an economic level also considering that many countries in the region are importers of gas.
Along these lines, he argues that at times the focus of the discussion should be shifted: “In terms of environmental benefits, what benefits does it generate? Little or nothing, so they want to sell a technology that is perhaps more profitable for certain companies today as a ‘transition’.
“Investments in gas must be very well planned”, for example, in the truck segment, in countries like Argentina that have the appropriate infrastructure, “it may make sense today to add units, but in 10 years when the useful life of the vehicle ends, the purchase will be of an electric vehicle”.
If we focus purely on economics, it has already been proven that electric buses are already more profitable. A witness fleet is that of Blanco y Negro, in Cali, Colombia. When they started operating, gas buses compared to diesel gave a saving of 21% in fuel efficiency. Comparing gas with electric, the saving is 58%.
In 2019 it cost $1399 per cubic metre of gas and in 2020 it increased to $1731. This is 26% more on average, a consequence of having dollarised fuel in the country.
On the other hand, the energy tendered was obtained at competitive costs and the connection is at high voltage, which allowed an average of $452 to be paid in 2019, $407 in 2020 and $461 in November 2021.