From the blog...
The use of natural gas as an alternative motor fuel is gaining traction, particularly among operators of large fleet vehicles, according to a recent study by Pike Research. Since fleet vehicles – like buses, refuse trucks and heavy-duty trucks – are heavier, often travel longer distances and suffer from relatively low fuel economy, fleet managers are looking to compressed natural gas (CNG) for costs savings.
The Pike Research study predicts that the global market for natural gas trucks will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent between 2012 and 2019, while natural gas-fueled busses are expected to grow 19 percent during the same period. Asia-Pacific is the strongest region for natural gas trucks and busses, thanks to existing infrastructure and heavy government investment that have helped buoy the relatively young NGV industry. However, growth is also expected to accelerate in other markets, like North America, as high diesel costs and tightening government emissions standards force fleet operators around the world to look for creative solutions.
Local governments turn to CNG
Some municipalities in the United States have already started to transition away from traditionally-fueled fleet vehicles and are working to determine the practicality and cost savings of CNG-powered vehicles. Jerry Gunter, equipment services manager for the city of Greensboro, North Carolina, recently told Blue Corridor about progress made in the introduction of CNG-powered vehicles into Greensboro’s fleet. Beginning in April 2012, the city began using CNG refuse trucks and a dedicated CNG refueling station, which have helped move the city toward cost-savings and other goals.
“Fuel savings was a major factor in utilizing CNG, along with continuing our efforts to ‘go green’ and help cut down on green-house gases to help the environment,” Gunter said. “To date, we have had great success with the two CNG trucks we have.” He went on to say that the fleet has already lowered costs, as the fuel is costing the city approximately 90-95 cents per gallon, compared to roughly double the cost per gallon for diesel fuel.
Global fuel shift
CNG is making gains in other parts of the world, as well. In Europe, stringent new Euro VI emissions standards require trucks and busses to release less nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions, paving the way for greater reliance on CNG and alternative fuels. Last year’s Blue Corridor Natural Gas Vehicle Rally proved that Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland and Russia are all quickly turning to natural gas vehicles to reduce emissions, and they’re not alone. Interest in NGVs is growing in Spain, in Georgia, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere throughout the continent, as well.
The EU also plans to co-finance a €2 million study on large-scale integration of the fuel into existing infrastructure in Spain. The study will feature integrated Intelligent Transport Systems communications technologies that will help with pricing policy, station monitoring and payment methods. As infrastructure catches up with the desire for cost-efficient and green transportation fuel options, more heavy-fleet managers are likely to gravitate to CNG as a transport fuel.