The European Liquid Gas Congress (ELGC) 2024 has just concluded, marking a pivotal event for the liquid gas industry. This year, it brought together sectoral experts, industry leaders, and policymakers from around Europe and beyond to discuss the future of Liquid Gas, especially in light of the Fitfor55 package and the 2050 targets for climate neutrality.  

From insightful panel discussions at theFORUM and theSTAGE to dynamic conversations at theWORKSHOPS, our busy agenda covered everything from heating and mobility to legislation and market trends. Key takeaways included the critical role of renewable liquid gases and innovative technologies in driving sustainability, alongside the importance of strong legislation that provides the right incentives and support for a growing industry. 

For the first year, the event featured theFORUM, our dynamic second stage that has quickly become a cornerstone of the theARENA (exhibition) . Designed to offer an engaging and facilitated program, theFORUM allowed sectoral and specialized speakers to delve deep into specific topics with an exceptional level of detail. This stage provided a unique and interactive platform for industry experts to explore thematic content, share insights, and address the most pressing issues facing the sector. TheFORUM's comprehensive sessions not only fostered in-depth discussions but also encouraged collaboration and innovation. 

 

The first forum slot, Future Opportunities for Renewable Liquid Gases (rLGs), began with a warm welcome from the moderator, who thanked the audience for their participation. Chris Goggin, Operations Director at Rinnai UK, kicked off the session by discussing the future opportunities for rLGs. He highlighted the importance of practical, economic, and pragmatic solutions to meet heating requirements in off-grid, rural buildings, showcasing the cost-effectiveness of rLG solutions in commercial applications. 

Alice Francou, Development Region West Director at Antargaz, presented findings from two studies on the suitability of heat pumps in domestic, off-grid, rural buildings. She noted that in cases where buildings are large and require extensive renovation, rLG-fueled solutions are preferable. Jan Schouwenaar, CEO of Primagaz, emphasized the benefits of rLGs in decarbonization, noting that consumers switching from LG to rLGs do not need to incur additional capital expenditure. He also stressed the need for a balanced approach, harnessing both electricity and gas, as electricity alone is often not the most appropriate solution for rural areas. The session concluded with a discussion on policy support for rLG production and the need to avoid downstream barriers. 

Highlights of the European Liquid Gas Congress 2024 - theFORUM
Highlights of the European Liquid Gas Congress 2024 - theFORUM

Understanding and Addressing Autogas Consumers was the second session at theFORUM and delved into the evolving needs of Autogas consumers, especially considering the upcoming 2035 internal combustion engine (ICE) ban. Experts including Angelique Berden, Project Support Director at Westport Fuel Systems, Eglantine Borel, Finance Manager at Borel Système Gaz Carburants, David Kling, Business Unit Retail Director from Antargaz, and Katarzyna Rutkowska, Vice-President of AC S.A., discussed the importance of assessing consumer preferences to select suitable mobility options , so that consumers can pick the solution that best suits their needs. Panellists highlighted the affordability and cleanliness of Autogas as key factors for consumers seeking sustainable transport alternatives and the need for policymakers to recognize the tangible benefits of Autogas, particularly in terms of reducing air pollution in European cities. 

The session "Sustainability Assurance" moderated by Stephen Hallet, Operations Director at Dimeta introduced Peter Hawighorst, Project Manager at ISCC System, presenting the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) and its role in promoting sustainable production. He emphasised ISCC's commitment to ensuring fully traceable, deforestation-free, and climate-friendly supply chains. The session also addressed bureaucratic challenges in obtaining certifications and discussed potential simplifications for the future. 

Consumers – Needs and Expectations centred around the needs of consumers, featuring three videos of liquid gas users. Zino, a domestic consumer from Belgium, shared his reasons for choosing liquid gas for heating and hot water in his rural home. Maciej, a hotel general manager in Poland, described the hotel's switch from natural gas to liquid gas due to cost benefits. Eric, owner of a fasting and hiking hotel in the French Alps, explained his choice of liquid gas for its comfort, cost, and convenience. 

The panel, consisting of Philip Hannon, Policy Director at Liquid Gas Ireland, Gerhard Ölsinger, Vice President Wider Europe from UGI International, Natacha Cambriels, General Manager at Butagaz, and independent researcher Yassine Abdelouadoud, discussed the video's content and their perspectives on off-grid energy solutions. The panel and the audience were clearly of the opinion that a multi-technology, multi- energy solution strategy, is preferable to a one-size fits all approach, to ensure that consumers needs and expectations are met. 

Highlights of the European Liquid Gas Congress 2024 - theFORUM
Highlights of the European Liquid Gas Congress 2024 - theFORUM

The Future of Autogas highlighted how Autogas is Europe’s most used alternative fuel, with a unique blend of economic benefits and emission reductions for the road transport sector. The panel, which included Filippo De Cecco, Technical Manager at Federchimica-Assogasliquidi, Cinch Munson, Business Development Director at WLGA, and Jobst Diercks, Chairman of the Board at Deutscher Verband Flüssiggas e. V, discussed the current market situation for Autogas in Europe and globally, its environmental benefits, growth trends, the benefits of retrofits, and highlighted the role Autogas can play in our decarbonisation journey in Europe and beyond. Panellists also underlined some of the key challenges Autogas faces in Europe, such as how EU policy makers tend to favour electrification for the transport and automotive sector. Looking at policy developments such as AFID, RED III and the ban of combustion engines as of 2035. Panellists examined the impact such mindset has on the development of the industry. Nevertheless, the Autogas market offers exciting future opportunities, as a major alternative fuel fit for the green transition. Panellists concluded that the industry must deploy renewable liquid gases, which will further strengthen the position of our industry across the EU and mitigate the impact transport has on the environment. 

Highlights of the European Liquid Gas Congress 2024 - theFORUM
Highlights of the European Liquid Gas Congress 2024 - theFORUM

The final session, AI & the Liquid Gas Industry – Are We Ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution?, moderated by John Taylor, Sustainability Manager at Liquid Gas Europe, examined the readiness of the liquid gas industry for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Bruno Almeida, International Sales Director at ANOVA, opened the session by discussing his company’s work in managing the increasing volumes of data. Eric David, a professor at EMLyon Business School specialising in risk management, digital transformations, and robotic operations, followed by defining Artificial Intelligence, its functionalities, and implementation strategies. He emphasized the need for high-quality products to safeguard against cyber-attacks and advised a balanced approach to AI adoption, suggesting that industries should "run slow." The session concluded with a discussion on the timeline for AI implementation, with both Eric David and Bruno Almeida agreeing that physical implementation should take no more than one and a half year, but mastering the use of AI and its data is crucial. 

The ELGC 2024 Forum sessions provided valuable insights and fostered important discussions on the future of the liquid gas industry. From exploring the potential of renewable liquid gases and understanding consumer needs to address sustainability and the impact of AI, the congress highlighted the industry's commitment to innovation and sustainability. 

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