A new report on natural gas as a fuel for Canada's transportation sector outlines compelling reasons for embracing a diversified transportation fuel strategy that includes natural gas. However, significant challenges to deployment of natural gas vehicles (NGV) in Canada must be overcome, according to the report, which was released by a roundtable of the Canadian Natural Gas Vehicle Alliance (CNGVA).

Heavy trucks and buses, the focus of the report's recommendations, represent less than 5% of vehicles in Canada, but they contributed nearly one-third of carbon emissions from on-road vehicles in 2008, according to the report.

Challenges to NGV truck and bus deployment include "operating risks associated with costs and technology performance, high upfront vehicle costs, a lack of widespread infrastructure and noneconomic issues, including scarce recent experience with NGVs, insufficient information about current technology, and a lack of comfort with NGVs based on past history."

The report's deployment road map report highlights the competitiveness and environmental benefits of introducing natural gas for trucking along key corridors and for urban fleets in Canada.

CNGVA praised the Government of Canada for supporting the initiative as well as Natural Resources Canada for bringing together fleet end-users, environmental groups, government and industry to look at the best uses for natural gas in Canada's transportation sector.

"This an excellent example of federal leadership and industry collaboration. Natural gas can provide clean, cost effective transportation solutions which will benefit all Canadians," said CNGVA Chair Jonathan Burke.

The key finding of the report was that trucking fleets that operate along regional corridors and in urban areas can improve their competitiveness and reduce their environmental impacts by using natural gas. Canadian communities will also benefit: first, by the use of lower emission natural gas refuse collection trucks and other commercial vehicles; and second, from local jobs created by Canadian companies that are suppliers of NGV and station technologies, the report said.

"Operating natural gas trucks helps reduce one of our largest costs (fuel) and reduces our carbon footprint. This is a win-win for both the environment and for fleets who adopt natural gas," said Claude Robert, CEO of Robert Transport, one of Canada's largest for-hire trucking companies, which recently purchased 180 natural gas trucks.

Natural gas is a clean-burning and less carbon intensive fuel . Canada is a leading producer with more than 100 years of available resources. Wayne Geis, Vice President, Natural Gas Economy for Calgary-based Encana Corporation noted, "Technology breakthroughs have unlocked vast new supplies of natural gas and increased use in transportation will drive economic growth and new job creation within Canada."

In the United States, Natural Gas Vehicles for America has reached similar conclusions about the viability of natural gas as a fuel for truck and bus fleets (see Daily GPI, May 13, 2010).

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