Natural gas adoption in US transportation has benefits, challenges

19 March 2013 21:38  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--Natural gas adoption in the US transportation sector has clear benefits but also a set of barriers, a consultant said on Tuesday.

Natural gas vehicles can save customers about 20% in fuel savings, said Tim Fitzgibbon, a consultant with McKinsey & Co.

In addition, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) reduce emissions of carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter, he said during the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturer (AFPM) annual meeting.

However, the industry faces barriers with the customer base, fuelling infrastructure and engine technology.

“On the customer side in almost every case, the consumer has to make some very significant investment at least in vehicle conversion if not then some in supply and structure,” Fitzgibbon said.

Fuelling infrastructure and engine technology technically usually require investments also because these are not typical structures, he added.

Still, the industry has made some headway in overcoming these barriers, Fitzgibbon said.

Transportation companies that have been rewarded after switching local fleets to natural gas are pioneering the fuel in long-haul trucking, he said.

Also, two major players are competing to build an LNG fuel infrastructure for long-haul trucking with 150 stations in place and more than 200 more planned, and multiple manufacturers have created engines for heavy- and medium-duty truck markets, Fitzgibbon added.

The AFPM annual meeting ends on Tuesday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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