I have always enjoyed National Geographic - especially their movies and TV specials! So I was obviously interested with this recent story on Natural Gas and the trucking industry. I was struck by this statistic: trucks represent more that 10% of all US oil consumption. With gasoline and diesel still priced near historic highs, and natural gas near historic lows, the rush is on to convert the trucking industry over to natural gas. The big stumbling blocks have been new engines and new refueling stations.
T. Boone Pickens and his Clean Energy Fuels has been the leader in building out the US with a skeleton of Compressed Natural Gas stations. CNG is best suited for shorter, “round” trips so the longer distance haulers have not been the early customers for natural gas conversion. Now, comes news that could change the industry:
Next month, after some delay, big engine manufacturer Cummins Westport will begin production of an 11.9-liter natural gas engine. Analysts believe that because it will have the size and power of a standard heavy-duty truck engine, it will be a game-changer. Truck manufacturers Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Volvo, and Navistar all plan to take deliveries, with the new LNG rigs hitting the road as early as August. . . . In North America, Shell has announced plans to supply LNG to trucks along a so-called "Green Corridor" spanning 900 miles (1,448 kilometers) of roadways in western Canada, and at 100 travel centers in the United States starting this year. Clean Energy aims ultimately to establish a network of LNG stations spaced every 250 miles (about 400 km) or so along major truck routes.
This is an exciting development in the Natural Gas Vehicle arena and it has been long anticipated. Many companies that have been on the NGV sidelines will now be modeling new investments in transportation. More good news for the US economy.