Could Natural Gas Fuel a Trucking Revolution ?  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The Energy Collective has a post from Geoffrey Styles on the growth of natural gas fuelled road transport - Could Natural Gas Fuel a Trucking Revolution ?. might as well use that transition fuel up as fast as possible...

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its latest Medium-Term Gas Market Report in St. Petersburg, Russia last month. Although the IEA sees the growth of gas in the power sector slowing, they also cite its emergence as "a significant transportation fuel." What really caught my eye was their projection that gas over the next five years would have "a bigger impact on oil demand than biofuels and electric cars combined," in light of the US shale gas revolution and tougher pollution rules in China.

That's quite an assertion, considering oil's longstanding dominance in transportation energy. As I noted in March, Italy, Pakistan and several other countries already have well-established demand for compressed natural gas (CNG) for passenger cars. Despite these hot spots only 3% of gas is currently used in transportation, globally, based on analysis from Citigroup. The IEA is forecasting that transportation growth will consume 10% of the projected global gas production increase of roughly 20 trillion cubic feet (TCF) per year by 2018. That's 2 TCF per year of additional natural gas demand in the transport sector, equivalent to 1 million barrels per day of diesel fuel.

I'd be more skeptical about that figure if I hadn't seen a presentation from Dr. Michael Gallagher of Westport Innovations at the Energy Information Administration's annual energy conference in Washington, DC last Monday. Westport specializes in natural gas engine technology for heavy-duty trucks and played a major role in implementing the LNG vision of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA a few years ago.

Dr. Gallagher made a strong case for gas in heavy-duty trucking, starting with the low cost of US natural gas compared to oil and its products. Initial growth rates in several segments look encouraging, including transit buses and new trash trucks, for which natural gas now has around half the market. Growth in China has apparently been even faster, with LNG vehicles increasing at over 100% per year (from a small base) and natural gas refueling stations growing at 33% per year since 2003.

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