Separate reports confirmed the competitiveness of natural gas as a transportation fuel, with the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) maintaining a strong pricing edge over gasoline, diesel and other alternative fuels. At the same time, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expanding its potential transportation options to include rail.
During the past two years, CNG has maintained a $1.15 to $1.81 advantage over gasoline on a gallon of gasoline equivalent (GGE) basis, according to the latest Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report, released last Friday.
Gasoline was $3.59/gal. on average nationwide in April, and other alternative fuels were similarly or higher priced on an energy-equivalent basis or GGE. “CNG continued to come in significantly cheaper than other transportation fuels on the GGE basis,” said the report out of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
DOE’s Alternative Fueling Station Locator (https://www.afdc.energy.gov/locator/stations/) lists 586 public CNG fueling stations nationally; 2,600 public propane stations, and 2,350 ethanol (E85) stations nationally.
On Monday, Clean Fuel Energy Corp., a major supplier of natural gas fuel and fueling stations for transportation, released the fourth volume of its “Road to Natural Gas, ” documenting a “growing portfolio of customers” switching to natural gas vehicles (NGV).
Clean Energy cited a decision by UPS to expand its LNG fleet by 700 vehicles by the end of 2014 as a sign that “America’s Natural Gas Highway stands ready to fuel an industry transition,” and momentum “continues to build” in the long-haul trucking segment (see Daily GPI, April 25).
The report highlights “the first railroad fuel deal,” which involves a unit of General Electric Corp. providing LNG for an initiative to test LNG locomotives (see Daily GPI, June 6; March 8).
“The railroad industry in the United States consumes 3.3 billion gallons of diesel annually,” said Clean Energy, noting that GE Transportation is the world’s leading manufacturer of diesel-electric locomotives.
The report, highlighting the California firm’s expansions throughout the nation, cited continuing growth for NGVs in a number of fleet sectors — refuse and other vocational industries; airport shuttles/taxis and fleets; trucking for shippers and carriers; and transit.
“Approximately 35% of new buses purchased in 2013 will be fueled by natural gas,” Clean Energy said. Earlier this year, the company won a contract to build additional fueling stations for the nation’s largest CNG-powered fleet, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Clean Energy calculates that natural gas as a transportation fuel costs up to $1.50 less on a GGE basis than diesel, depending on local market conditions. The latest DOE Clean Cities pricing report put CNG at $1.49 less on a GGE basis, while E85 is about $1.07 more than gasoline on a GGE basis.
For comparison, the same report in January 2011, showed CNG about $1.15 less than gasoline on a GGE basis, while E85 at that time was 81 cents more than gasoline on a GGE basis.
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