Natural gas is a “natural” transportation fuel
The United States is a world leader in many areas, but using natural gas as a transportation fuel is, unfortunately, not yet one of them. According to statistics from the Natural Gas Vehicle Knowledge Base, there were over 15 million natural gas-powered cars and trucks in the world as of 2011, but only 123,000 of them in the United States; however, this outlook is changing quickly as more car and truck manufacturers are introducing CNG (compressed natural gas) and LNG (liquefied natural gas) vehicles.
Fleet operators are turning to NGVs (natural gas vehicles) in droves. Natural gas is the fastest growing fuel in the transportation sector in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), who projects annual growth averaging a rate of 11.9 percent from 2011 to 2040.
The Natural Gas Vehicle Knowledge Base concludes from the EIA report that heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) are the leaders in the natural gas growth during the EIA’s projected period. HDVs include vocational vehicles, tractor-trailers, buses, and heavy-duty pickups/vans. They report from the EIA statistics that “natural gas fuel consumption by HDVs increases from almost zero in 2011 to more than 1 quadrillion Btu in 2040, at an average annual growth rate of 14.6 percent.”
Due to its low cost, natural gas is an appealing option for HDVs, especially considering that the number of miles traveled by HDVs annually will increase by 82 percent by 2040, according to the report. Although, as the Natural Gas Vehicle Knowledge Base points out, “HDVs fueled by natural gas have significant incremental costs in comparison with their diesel-powered counterparts.” Even so, natural gas is a viable option for HDVs and their rising numbers that will be on the road in the future.
While the U.S. may have been slow to the starting line on using natural gas as a transportation fuel, we are making progress on natural gas as a transportation fuel. There is a lot of natural gas in the Barnett Shale; it makes perfectly good sense to use more of it in our cars and trucks. The icing on the cake is that doing so can also help clean up the air in the DFW area, which would be another way to lead by example.