Tag Archives: compressed natural gas

Time to seize a prosperous future fuelled by natural gas

Compared with coal, natural gas produces half the carbon dioxide, less than a third of the nitrogen oxide and just one per cent of the sulphur dioxide, with virtually no particulates. That China is looking to import LNG from B.C.’s shale gas is good news for both Canada and for the Earth’s atmosphere. But LNG will only slow China’s massive coal-fired power growth. Here’s the really good news. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), China possesses the world’s largest technically recoverable shale gas reserves that, at 1,115 trillion cubic feet, are almost twice as large as Canada’s. These vast resources remain undeveloped due to the early stage of Chinese recovery technology. That’s why the University of Calgary’s announcement of a new Canadian/Chinese Research Centre aimed at unlocking that potential is so newsworthy. At the signing ceremony in Beijing on October 23, U of C President Elizabeth Cannon stated that the project “will help China move from a coal economy over to gas.”

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Cheap natural gas makes inroads as U.S. vehicle fuel

Its about time! Natural gas prices are at record lows due to the shale gas drilling boom and this abundent clean burning source of energy is finally starting to get the attention of North American auto makers.

In a recent National Post article, Mark Hanson, an analyst at investment research firm Morningstar is quoted as saying the use of natural gas instead of oil based gasoline is “definately starting to take off”.  He states further that “The economics seem to work, its just a question of what pace” the necessary infrastructure will take to develop.

Oddly enough natural gas vehicles or compressed natural gas (“CNG”) vehicles have been produced by every car manufacturer in the world, and sold in every market in the world except for the United States and Canada. Here CNG is left to the aftermarket. Government incentives cover a good portion of the cost of converting existing gasoline vehicles to CNG. Some of the larger commercial fleets in Canada and North America have already taken advantage of the numerous benefits of CNG. With car manufacturers offering CNG direct from the factory, consumers are more likely to choose natural gas as their preferred transportation energy source.

Infrastructure has always been the reason for lack of development which is a bit odd. In Canada at least, most homes are heated by natural gas. A robust pipeline network for natural gas runs down every street in every city in Canada. Installing a natural gas compression station at any gas station in Canada is simply not the issue. Whether the gas station wants to invest in doing so is the real question, and it creates the “chicken and egg” scenario. Consumers are more likely to purchase CNG cars knowing natural gas stations are widely distributed, while gas stations are likely to build stations if there are enough CNG customers.

With car manufacturers offering a CNG option direct from the manufacturer to consumers, governments should cancel conversion incentives and direct more of these incentive dollars by providing or increasing incentives for the installation of natural gas compression stations at gas stations throughout North America… or simply mandate that gas stations must offer alternative energy choices, including natural gas and electric re-charge stations.

National Post: Cheap natural gas makes inroads as US vehicle fuel

Related: LA Auto Show: Honda Civic Natural Gas named 2012 Green Car of the Year

Honda beats US car makers to market with natural gas version of 2012 Civic

2012 Honda Civic EXL

American car manufacturers failed to recognize changing consumer demand by building big SUVs and ignoring fuel effecient categories. Oil prices drove up gasoline prices and US car manufacturer’s sales tumbled (due to gas prices and subsequently tumbled again with the crash of the credit market).

At the same time, Toyota launched the Prius Hybrid and became the recognized leader in hybrid technologies category. In 2007, Prius had its best sales year selling more then 181,000 units in the USA. It wasn’t till the 4th quarter with the launch of the Chevy Volt, has the prius had any serious competition (and now the Volt is fighting a PR nightmare with two of them involved in garage fires within the last month. GM denies the Volt was the cause).

With oil prices going up again, Honda today has made a big push into the small car / effeciency market in the USA with the launch of a multi-version Honda Civic that includes a compressed natural gas version (“CNG”) and hybrid version. Honda says it will sell the CNG Civic in some specific regions of the USA, rolling them out nationwide over the next year.

It will be interested to see how long USA car manufacturers take to recognize the growing interest and demand in fuel efficient CNG vehicles. Here on HRN we have long supported the use of more natural gas within the north american transportation system to reduce CO2 emissions. In the USA, there is the added benefit of a reduction on foreign oil dependency.

USA Today: Honda Civic Choices will Include Natural Gas, 44 mpg Hybrid

Natural gas climbs on Obama US energy plan and cold weather


President Obama spoke Wednesday at Georgetown University in Washington about America’s energy security. (Photo: Doug Mills, New York Times)

Natural gas prices climbed Wednesday as President Barack Obama said he wanted the United States to use more of it instead of foreign oil. Obama has declared he wants to cut US oil imports by a third by 2025 and announced a number of initiatives that would see the US use more natural gas, and biofuels to power vehicles and produce electricity.


But the prices increase was not on Obama’s statements alone… colder-than-normal temperatures are expected to cover parts of the Midwest and East Coast through this weekend, lifting gas-heating needs and drawing down natural gas inventories in advance of the spring shoulder season.

Here on HRN we have long stated that North America needs to better leverage their natural gas resources in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. In the US, there is the added benefit of reducing dependance on foreign oil suppliers in the middle east who do not share the same interests as the US.

The US has become the largest producer of natural gas in the world, with abundent reserves found in shale gas deposits. Unfortunately, rather then keep up higher production rates and increase usage in power generation and transportation, plans are underway to start to export natural gas to China and other countries… and export the lower carbon benefit along with it.

Canada can also use more natural gas in power generation and transportation. Last reports published still had Canada sitting at just over 12,500 compressed natural gas vehicles across the country. That is a dismal number. The US is not much better but at least the number is going up. A number of US companies with large fleet vehicles have already made the conversion recognizing the many advantages to compressed natural gas vehicles. For example, Verizon’s purchse of over 500 CNG vans last June (See HRN: “Verizon buys natural gas vans“).

Point. Lets take full advantage of the energy resources we have in North America rather then exporting it and burning higher carbon resources. It is obvious that we can not entirely replace one energy source with another. It will take all available resources to meet our growing energy demands. However, the energy mix can make better use of lower carbon energy sources like natural gas, and zero carbon energy sources like wind, solar and hydro. (Keep in mind that the mineral resources, and manufacturing of wind, solar etc takes energy which is generally provided by oil, and coal).

So while Obama has suggested that increased usage of US natural gas is important, and noted that Canada’s oil sands are the best secure supply of oil, dont forget Canada’s vast resources of natural gas from shale reserves in the Horn River Basin and elsewhere in Canada. Though Canada can use more domestic natural gas for its own power generation and transportation, it will still produce a surplus. And if the US is not their to buy the Asian market will be.

Wall Street Journal: US GAS: Futures Rise on Cold-Weather Boost


Waste Management Inc. to convert truck fleet to natural gas

Its been sometime since we have reported on a commercial fleet conversion to natural gas. However, this past week North America’s largest commercial waste company, Waste Management Inc., announced they would convert their fleet of trucks in Vancouver, BC, to compressed natural gas (“CNG”).

Why? Well, natural gas is cleaner and less expensive (in many ways). Under the new agreement, Terasan Gas will supply fuel for about 20 new Waste Management CNG trucks to be added to the fleet by the end of 2010.

Rob Sherman, Waste Management’s B.C. director of operations, said the company has 100 trucks in Metro Vancouver and that the company will eventually convert all of its fleet to CNG as the trucks are replaced.  The Company expects to reduce fuel costs by 35-45%. So its good for business.

Waste Management already has 930 CNG trucks in its North American fleet of more than 20,000 vehicles, and has plans for more as diesel trucks are retired.
The Company states in their press release:
Comparing current prices for CNG and diesel, fuel costs for the new Waste Management trucks would be 40 per cent less. Maintenance costs are expected to be lower because natural gas burns cleaner than diesel, so engine parts stay cleaner. Moreover, the clean-burning trucks will deliver distinct environmental benefits, including nearly zero air particulate, 23 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, quieter engines and a smaller carbon footprint.

Press Release: Waste Management Teams with Terasan Gas to Help Meet Climate Action Goals

Verizon buys natural gas vans

The momentum for natural gas within the North American transportation system gained another big customer today when Ford announced that Verizon Communications will purchase 501 vans outfitted with engines that burn compressed natural gas (“CNG”). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Verizon plans to use the 2010 model Ford E-250 cargo van and save an estimated 1.62 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year compared to the output of models that run on conventional gasoline. The vans are primarily driven by technicians making house calls to install phone, cable television and Internet services.

Ken McKenney, Sustainable Fleet-Technical Engineering Lead for Verizon stated:

“Verizon’s fleet team is constantly on the watch for new, lower-carbon technology. CNG is a leading alternative fuel choice right now, so converting these cargo vans to run on the cleaner-burning fuel helps us cut CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. We will continue to find ways to increase the efficiency of our fleet.”

In March 2009, AT&T announced plans to invest $350 million into converting and purchasing vehicles powered by compressed natural gas. (See HRN: AT&T to invest in 8,000 compressed natural gas vehicles)

Press Release: Verizon to Cut CO2 Emissions by Converting 501 New Ford E-Series Vans to Run on Natural Gas

More tax incentives for natural gas vehicles in United States

Ford Fiesta CNG, only in Europe you say?

Ford Fiesta CNG, only in Europe you say? Pitty

Today, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada will introduce legislation that would double the size of tax credits for buying vehicles fueled by natural gas.  Mr. Reid will join Mr. T. Boone Pickens in a press conference today supporting the proposed tax credits. Under the proposed legislation, the credits which cover 80 percent of the added cost to buy natural gas-fueled vehicles over conventional automobiles, would jump to as high as $12,500 for passenger cars and light trucks and as much as $64,000 for higher weight-class vehicles. If President Obama is serious about reducing carbon emissions he will fully support the legislation.

Canada needs to get on board here. Every country in the world is moving fast towards incorporating more natural gas into their transportation network in order to reduce carbon emissions and increase fuel efficiencies.  Canada is seriously lagging behind and taking advantage of the massive amounts of shale gas that are deposited in Canada to make substantial reductions in carbon emissions in the most practical way available today.

In Canada, the CNG market has been relegated to after market kits and providing rebate incentives to have existing vehicles converted over to CNG. However, complaints rolled in when providers and installers of CNG kits simply increased their rates by an amount equal to the rebates, making the CNG conversion program a complete failure.

And while auto makers produce CNG vehicles for sale around the world where CNG vehicles have quadrupled in the past five years to over 10 million vehicles worldwide , there are no natural gas vehicles available for sale in Canada. General Motors,  Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, Mercedes and others all sell CNG vehicles outside Canada. Manufacturers in North America are scrambling to meet demand for alternative fuel vehicles – an opportunity they completed screwed up over the last few years choosing to sell gas guzzling SUVs etc. Still there no known plans for CNG.

A obvious start would be to have all government fleet vehicles on natural gas. AT&T is leading the way in the US with plans to convert nearly 8000 vehicles; half of public buses in California are on natural gas with natural gas playing a major role in the state’s plans to reduce carbon emissions. In BC we enjoy the odd “test bus” drive by promoting how it is running natural gas or hydrogen.

And the key to moving forward with reducing carbon emissions is through incentives, not penalties. On July 1st, British Columbia’s carbon tax on gasoline  increased to 3.6 cents per litre from 2.4 cents. The BC government says it created the “revenue-neutral” surcharge in part to create awareness and  prompt individuals and businesses to question their reliance on carbon spewing conventional fuels.  Does anyone seriously believe a 3.6 cent tax onto gasoline has changed driving habits in BC? No. Did the average consumer eve notice the increase at the pump that jumps up and down 5 cents a day? No.

The time is now for governments in Canada to encourage consumers and businesses to start using natural gas as their fuel of choice for transportation by off setting the increased cost of purchasing a CNG based vehicle. And auto companies in Canada need to start offering the same factory direct CNG vehicles that are offered elsewhere in the world.

(Oh, one reason they say they can’t offer some of the CNG cars offered internationally is because of the higher safety standards in Canada (ie. crash testing)… higher safety standards that were necessary because of the increasing numbers of heavy SUVs crowding our streets and smashing into smaller cars… thanks again).

Recent massive reserve discoveries in British Columbia’s Horn River and Montney basin have dramatically changed the Canadian energy industry. We need to support investment into this valuable resource, encourage exploration development and distribution increasing local consumption while nurturing new international customers in Asia. Natural gas is abundant, affordable and clean and is simply the most practical solution for reducing carbon emissions.

Bloomberg: Tax Credit for Natural-gas Fueled Cars May be Doubled, Extended

Congratulations Huntington New York!!

A big congratulations to Huntington New York for their action and commitment to start converting their garbage collection fleet to compressed natural gas (“CNG”) in a local effort to improve fuel efficiencies; reduce carbon emissions and reduce the town’s reliance on foreign oil.

Huntington joins a growing list of cities and fleet vehicle owners that are looking to natural gas as a sensible alternative fuel for powering their vehicles with clean burning natural gas.

Full story “Huntington to fuel trucks with natural gas” by A.J. Carter