A new environmental issue is emerging and we need to drive less quickly to reduce the precipitation of nitrogen compounds. The maximum speed on motorways around the Veluwe has since been reduced. Does it solve anything? AutoWeek listed the figures.

The situation is dire, no doubt no one has missed it. Due to a ruling by the Council of State, eighteen thousand construction projects in the Netherlands have come to a halt, including housing and road construction, the construction of wind turbines and the construction of nature reserves.

In anticipation of a large-scale approach, measures must be devised quickly. The nitrogen deposition must be reduced just enough to give construction and industry some breathing space. The concept of 'fast' is leading in this.

The Remkes Committee, which was specially set up for the nitrogen crisis, is thinking of reducing the maximum speed on some provincial and national roads in the vicinity of nature reserves. The first 120 signs have already been placed on motorways around the Veluwe.

Johan Remkes during the presentation of the advice. (Photo: ProShots)

Nitrogen non-toxic

The current problem revolves around an excess of nitrogen deposition in our country. Please note: it is not about nitrogen emissions, because that puts our country on track. The problem is how much nitrogen gets into the soil and then to be precise within the so-called Natura 2000 areas. Natura 2000 is a European network of nature areas that is intended to improve biodiversity.

What is wrong with nitrogen? The gas does not have its name, but in principle there is nothing wrong with it. You don't see it and you don't smell it. And it's not toxic either. The problem only arises when you talk about nitrogen compounds.

In the car world you are talking about Nitric oxide (NOx). That is because every incineration occurs. The hotter the combustion, the greater the problem. Traffic, power plants and industry are therefore the most important sources of NOx.

The nitrogen problem keeps the minds busy. (Photo: ProShots)

Many cars nowadays have a NOx catalyst

Major improvements have already been made in the automotive world and in the agricultural sector that have reduced nitrogen emissions. In fact, nitrogen emissions are no longer an issue in modern passenger cars with NOx catalyst. This also applies to electric vehicles.

The total road traffic accounted for between 5.5 and 6 percent of the nitrogen deposition in 2018. And the passenger car only a fraction of that.

Passenger cars are also responsible for 39 percent of nitrogen emissions in traffic, Trucks for 33 percent and delivery vans for 23 percent. A reduction of the maximum speed has - according to various sources - at most 49 percent of the traffic.

Passenger cars are responsible for a fraction of the nitrogen deposition. (Photo: 123RF)

"Cars get cleaner quickly"

Various sources arrive at a remarkably low profit after calculation. BOVAG and RAI Association calculate 0.13 percent less deposition of nitrogen if you go from 130 (or 120) to 100 kilometers on all motorways. If you take a reduction of the maximum speed on 100-kilometer roads with a lane (to 80), that is 0.24 percent.

Martien Visser, lecturer in Energy Transition Hanze University of Applied Sciences notes in various contributions on Twitter, among other things, that the Netherlands is well on track for the 2020 objectives for NOx and ammonia.

For the highways, he calculates a 0.06 percent gain when the maximum speed is reduced from 130 to 120 kilometers per hour. According to Visser, an overall reduction of the maximum speed to 100 and immediately also on 100-kilometer roads with a lane (back to 80) has an effect of around 0.24 percent on nitrogen deposition.

"Locally the effect can be greater. Especially along the motorways, of course. On the other hand, cars are getting cleaner in terms of NOx emissions and nitrogen deposition in the Netherlands is decreasing by about 2 percent a year anyway," it was said.

Lowering the maximum speed has little environmental benefit. (Photo: ProShots)

"Let speed limit apply to delivery vans"

Trafficanalist.nl also has an intriguing conclusion: "The effect of a reduction of the maximum speed on motorways is very small. Moreover, the majority of the potential theoretical reduction can be attributed to diesel vehicles."

"In fact, reducing the maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour is not a sensible measure for achieving emission reduction. If a speed reduction is nevertheless considered, it is advisable to consider the possibility of limiting this restriction specifically for delivery vans (and in extreme diesel cars). "

Speed ​​reduction for delivery vans would have more effect. (Photo: Renault)

The full story was in AutoWeek 42