Natural Gas Fueling – The Silent Transportation Revolution
A second revolution has been quietly gaining traction in the U.S. transportation sector. Over the last five years, more than $450 million of private sector capital has been invested in natural gas fueling infrastructure. In fact, a technological breakthrough has enabled the development of both fuel storage enhancements and lighter stronger tanks that promise to increase range, reduce vehicle weight, and lower vehicle cost.
Natural gas vehicles have long suffered from a consumer perception of being “boring.” For many individuals, their first encounter with a natural gas vehicle is a city bus, a United States Post Office delivery vehicle, or the car carrying the parking enforcement officer who just wrote you a parking ticket – not exactly the flashy marketing that surrounds the launch of most new vehicles today.
The total number of compressed natural gas (CNG) stations nationwide has grown by nearly 80 percent since 2009. Although the truck market may be small in absolute numbers, these vehicles travel great distances every year: medium- and heavy-duty trucks consume upwards of 90 percent of all diesel fuel used on highways in the United States.
The bright prospects for vehicles that rely on natural gas truly is “good news” for the country because these vehicles provide much-needed diversity to the transportation sector, which is currently dependent on petroleum—and the perils of global oil markets—for more than 90 percent of fuel consumption. Similarly, vehicles that rely on natural gas can offer tremendous optionality in the face of a global oil crisis, and also free up U.S.-produced petroleum products for our allies in times of need.
Looking forward, vehicles relying on natural gas hold great promise, but our work is not yet finished until those promises become reality.