While in other news we read domestic energy security is dependent on quickly creating far more potent electric vehicles, moves are also underway to exploit America’s natural gas reserves.
But as LNG-capable vehicles are gaining in popularity, the need for a proper network of fueling stations is becoming more apparent – and moves are underway to build it.
One of which is the completion of the first stage of what is being called Clean Energy Fuels Corp’s “America’s Natural Gas Highway” (ANGH). This was marked with the finished construction of an LNG truck fueling station in Matthews, Missouri this month.
The ANGH is a network of liquefied natural gas (LNG) truck fueling stations established to support long-haul, heavy-duty goods movement along major interstate corridors throughout the United States.
Speaking at last week’s American Trucking Associations Summit on Natural Gas in Trucking, Andrew Littlefair, Clean Energy president and CEO, said, “We have created America’s Natural Gas Highway to support the growing number of long-haul truckers and shippers who are deploying factory-built, heavy-duty trucks powered by natural gas fuel. LNG-fueled trucks can now travel the country and reap the benefits of fuel cost savings, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and the lower emissions profile that characterizes this abundant American resource.”
The company says that by the end of 2012, Clean Energy will have completed 70 new LNG truck fuel stations along highways that link major U.S. metropolitan areas. Many of these stations are located at existing Pilot-Flying J truck stops.
This all means the infrastructure is now in place for the trucking industry to cover a significant part of the U.S. using LNG-powered vehicles.
In 2013, Clean Energy plans to build 70 to 80 additional LNG fuel stations adjacent to long-haul trucking routes and around major warehouse distribution centers in North America.
Major highway segments now completed include, among others, those linking the Southwest Corridor, Los Angeles to Atlanta, The Texas Triangle, Atlanta to Chicago to Texas, and major corridors in the Midwest and Northeast.
Clean Energy also noted that an iPhone app station locator will be available by the end of this year to complement its Web-based locator.
The LNG fueling stations highway coincide with the arrival of new natural gas truck engines well suited for heavy-duty, over-the-road trucking.
At the ATA Summit, executives from engine manufacturers and original equipment truck manufacturers such as Cummins-Westport, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Navistar, Freightliner and Volvo presented their plans to rollout a variety of Class-8 trucks and engine sizes allowing for varied road and driving requirements.
Clean Energy’s ANGH stations are in addition to the ongoing CNG station building planned for the company’s traditional markets in transit, refuse, airport/taxi/shuttle and local/regional trucking, which activity accounts for 60 station projects in 2012 and is expected to account for approximately the same number in 2013.
Currently priced up to $1.50 a gallon lower than gasoline or diesel depending on local markets, natural gas fuel is also touted for reducing operational costs for vehicles and reducing greenhouse gas emissions up to 30 percent in light-duty vehicles and 23 percent in medium to heavy-duty vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 98 percent of the natural gas consumed in the U.S. is sourced in the U.S. and Canada, making natural gas, supporters say, a secure North American energy choice.