Natural gas utilities, private industry and municipalities are stepping up their game in the natural gas vehicle (NGV) sector, with a variety of projects, both new and for upgrades, launched nationwide.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) on Tuesday extended an application deadline to Dec. 19 for a $4 million grant funding for research and development of NGV engines for medium- and heavy-duty off-road vehicles (ORV) to support the agricultural, construction, industrial, port and cargo market sectors. ORVs are the second largest source of nitrogen oxide in the state’s San Joaquin Valley and South Coast air basins, and on-road heavy-duty vehicles are the largest source.

“The funding encourages demonstrations in those two locations, covering ORVs commonly used for heavy hauling like those used for waste transport, mining and semi-tractor trailer applications, and yard tractors and cranes found at ports and cargo handling areas,” said a spokesperson. CEC has supported previous research and development on advanced NGV engine technologies, but primarily for on-road, heavy-duty vehicles.

Also on Tuesday, the City of San Mateo, CA completed a wastewater-to-compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility using an American Natural Gas Inc.’s Energy Systems package. The city wants to expand its modest fleet of CNG vehicle and has broken ground for the project, which received a $2.45 million CEC grant less than a year ago.

“We couldn’t meet our climate action goals without programs like this,” said San Mateo Mayor Joe Goethals. The successful project is “a model for other local governments,” said CEC’s Tim Olson, energy and fuels program manager.

San Mateo currently operates two dedicated CNG Ford F-150 pickups and a CNG-gasoline bi-fuel Chevrolet Impala. The fueling station features two 50 hp NG50E compression units with a nine-cylinder, multi-pressure storage cascade.

On the utility side, North Carolina’s Piedmont Natural Gas plans to add CNG fueling infrastructure, citing “tremendous growth in demand…” Initiatives to accommodate the growing demand are taking place across North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, where the Charlotte, NC-based natural gas distributor serves more than one million customers.

“Piedmont Natural Gas has seen a doubling of demand for CNG as price and environmental benefits drive sales,” a spokesman said, noting that the gas utility plans to open its 11th public-access CNG fueling station in Hickory, NC, by year’s end, able to deliver 12 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) a minute. The utility is also building a private time-fill CNG station for the solid waste services unit for the City of Charlotte.

For private industry, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has secured several nationwide contracts. The Newport Beach, CA-based firm is building a CNG station in Coachella, CA, for Burrtec Waste Industries to fuel up to 50 refuse trucks and annually dispense about 520,000 GGE. The deal includes a 10-year operations/maintenance agreement. It also inked a deal to develop its third CNG fueling station in Franklin Township in southern New Jersey for South Jersey Gas and Riggins Inc., which also signed a 10-year operations/maintenance contract.

Clean Energy’s Facility Modification Services (FMS) division is continuing to grow, said CEO Andrew Littlefair, who pointed to deals to modify Cummins Inc. locations. Cummins is undergoing FMS modifications in Illinois, Pennsylvania and in the Bronx in New York City. Clean Energy also has signed a $1.3 million upgrade with San Fernando, CA, to keep up with increased traffic.

“While we continue to add transit, trucking and refuse fleets to our list of customers fueling at our network of stations all across North America, we also continue to build complete stations for our customers, and we expect to complete 62 of these types of projects this year,” Littlefair said.

In the trucking, transit and refuse sectors, Clean Energy has an agreement with Frank C. Alegre Trucking for liquefied natural gas (LNG) truck fueling for its bulk food hauling operations throughout Southern California.

Texas Gas Transport, an LNG hauler based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, has signed an agreement with Clean Energy for six trucks to deliver fuel to El Paso, TX. The Orange County Transportation Authority in Southern California also has contracted with Clean Energy for 1.5 million GGE of LNG for its fleet of 73 buses using renewable natural gas. Clean Energy also has more than $400,000 in grants for customers in Pennsylvania, Illinois and California allowing companies to purchase NGVs.

Overseas, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands is planning to put LNG-fueled dredger Ecodelta to work in 2018. The 440-foot (134-meter) ship is being built by the Dutch shipbuilding yard at Barkmeijer.

“The LNG-powered vessel will replace an old dredger as a part of a new maintenance contract signed between the port and Van der Kamp for keeping the harbors in Rotterdam in right depth until 2023,” said Cryonorm, which is supplying the system.

Similarly, Sweden’s Viking Line has a letter of intent with China’s Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry Co. for a ferry to join its pioneering LNG-fueled Viking Grace connecting Turku, Finland and Stockholm. The 715-foot ship is expected to cost about US$201 million.

“The aim is to sign a final agreement during the spring of 2017,” Viking Grace said, with the vessel to be delivered in the spring of 2020. “The vessel is intended to be a collaborative project, and the plan is to engage a number of Finnish and other European suppliers.”