Natural Gas- the Fuel of the Future
Updated September 29, 2013
Good news for fleet trucks: diesel isn’t as dead as disco, not yet anyway, but the end may be in sight. There are already twice as many natural gas powered vehicles (NGVs) on America’s roads compared to the number of electric plug-ins.
This gap is certain to increase for two reasons: 1) Natural gas prices have dropped to their lowest point in a decade due to record U.S. production; 2) Emissions from natural gas fuel are almost 90% lower than gasoline. Currently, compressed natural gas (CNG), used for light trucks, cars and vans, and liquid natural gas (LNG), powering buses and heavy, industrial trucking, is about half the price of traditional fossil fuels at the pump.
Not only is natural gas cheaper than gasoline or diesel, it’s going to stay that way. As of today, cost savings from natural gas fuels can be as high as 50%, but the scarcity of natural gas filling stations, nationwide, remains a key limiting factor holding down wider usage of natural gas cars, buses and fleet trucks.
But at least 20 states are pushing for NGV fleet expansion and several firms are planning substantial filling station build outs, with about half these facilities providing service to the public. The demand can, and will, grow over the next two decades, meaning diesel fuel consumption will drop by two thirds over the next twenty years.
This drop in diesel consumption can only have positive effects on the domestic economy as natural gas is an entirely American fuel source. Most credible estimates peg the nation’s natural gas reserves as bountiful for the next century.
This is largely due to modern technologies revolutionizing the availability of a transportation fuel that’s already been in use for more than 70 years. Natural gas fuels and vehicles are proven technologies that have been enhanced and refined over time, into an extremely safe and increasingly convenient method of transportation. And in performance, natural gas cars and trucks are as good as or better than traditional fossil fuel vehicles.
Currently, natural gas fuels offer the greatest savings for long-haul truckers, which form the backbone of bulk goods shipping nationally. All across the country, natural gas vehicles already play key roles for municipal governments looking out for the public good, in mass transit and commercial hauling.
Changing over to natural gas fueled vehicles makes perfect sense to administrations looking for the big, sustained savings required to support leaner state budgets. Natural gas provides a win-win scenario for green businesses and companies committed to green practices and a decreasing carbon footprint. Natural gas cars, vehicles and fleet trucks will make good economic and environmental sense for a long time to come.
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