Friday, February 28, 2014

LNG-fueled Trains

Canadian National Railways has been running a test of an LNG-powered locomotive on a 480km line in Alberta. It uses a blend of 90% LNG, 10% diesel. The LNG locomotives will have a longer range than diesel locomotives. Here in the U.S. safety issues and regulations must be settled first.

T. Boone Pickens Discusses Issues Of The Day

T. Boone Pickens discusses Syria, Redeem (a renewable gas vehicle fuel) and the growing adoption of natural gas as a fuel for vehicles.

Legislation To Promote Alternative Fuel Vehicles

The Wall Street Journal has an opinion pieced by Senators Inhofe and Levin summarizing their proposals to promote alternative fuel vehicles. They say it would...
  • "Expand regulatory incentives to produce alternative-fuel vehicles including plug-in electric hybrids, hydrogen fuel cells and NGVs."
  • "Remove 'alternative bi-fuel vehicles' from the annual bonus credit caps, which would boost production."
  • Revive the provision that allowed states to permit alternative fueled vehicles to use high-occupancy-vehicle lanes regardless of how many passengers are on board.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

What driver behaviors can help reduce petroleum consumption?

Question of the Month: What driver behaviors can help reduce petroleum consumption?

Answer: There are many simple changes fleet managers and individual drivers can adopt to improve vehicle efficiency, decrease fuel consumption, save money, and reduce emissions. In fact, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that improved driving behavior can reduce fuel consumption by an average of 10% and up to 20% for aggressive drivers; see the final report. Below are strategies fleet managers and individuals may consider to improve fuel efficiency.

Fuel Conservation Techniques for Drivers

Both fleets and individual drivers can save fuel by implementing the following practices:
  • Reducing Speeding: Though different vehicles reach optimal fuel economy at different speeds, fuel efficiency generally decreases significantly at speeds above 50 miles per hour. This is because at high speeds, more fuel is needed to overcome resistance from aerodynamics and tire rolling. The fuel economy benefit of reducing your speed is 7% to 14%. The "What is the speed penalty for my vehicle?" tool allows drivers to calculate the fuel economy reduction for their specific vehicle and typical driving behavior.
  • Conservative Driving: Gradual braking and accelerating can improve a vehicle's fuel economy by 33% on highways and by 5% on city roads. Driving conservatively not only helps conserve fuel and save money, but it is also a safe practice for drivers.
  • Combining Trips: Using one trip for multiple purposes, rather than making multiple trips, can save fuel, time, and money by reducing driving distance and avoiding unnecessary cold starts. When the engine is cold, starting a vehicle can use twice as much fuel.
  • Reducing Load: By offloading unneeded items from the vehicle, drivers can reduce the amount of fuel consumed by up to 2% for each 100 pounds.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Proper and regular vehicle maintenance can improve fuel economy by 40%. This includes keeping the engine properly tuned, maintaining proper tire inflation, and using the recommended grade of oil. For more information on vehicle maintenance techniques used to conserve fuel, see the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Vehicle Maintenance to Conserve Fuel page.

Fuel Conservation Strategies for Fleet Managers
Fleet managers can adopt the following fuel conservation strategies to maximize their fleet's fuel efficiency:
  • Train Drivers: Driver training courses can teach new and veteran fleet drivers basic fuel conservation techniques (see the above Fuel Conservation Techniques for Drivers section) that they can use to improve their individual fuel economy. These courses teach ways to minimize the negative impacts of idling, speeding, aggressive or frequent accelerating or breaking, improper shifting, and taking unnecessarily long routes. National Clean Fleets Partner Coca-Cola has a successful "eco-driver" training program.
  • Employ Advanced Technologies: Technologies, such as telematics systems, can greatly increase efficiency and fuel savings in fleets. These tools allow fleet managers to:
    • Give Feedback: Fleet managers can use fuel-tracking devices or GPS-based telematics systems to track fuel economy, idle time, vehicle routes, and driver performance to provide drivers with feedback on how to improve. Some systems even provide drivers with instantaneous alerts when they are exhibiting inefficient driving behaviors, such as speeding. Some fleets pair drivers with coaches to critique driver behaviors. Driver feedback may improve fuel economy by 3% to 10%.
    • Optimize Routes: Route optimization technologies help drivers plan routes that can reduce mileage, stops, acceleration events, number of vehicles needed, and time spent in traffic. Fleet managers can view data for individual drivers or for the entire fleet to view their progress and target areas of improvement.
  • Provide Incentives: Incentives, including driver recognition, special privileges, and monetary rewards, encourage drivers to use efficient driving behaviors. Polk County, Florida, provides an excellent case study of a fleet that developed a successful incentive program for its employees.
  • Implement Policies: Corporate policies that require drivers to participate in training courses, meet fuel-efficiency targets, comply with a maximum speed limit, and set goals can reduce emissions and improve driving efficiency.
  • Use Fleet Fueling Cards: Fleets that use fueling cards can monitor, control, track, and manage fuel and maintenance costs based on card transactions. One example is the WEX (formerly Wright Express) card.

More information on adjusting driver behavior to improve fuel efficiency can be found on the AFDC Efficient Driving Behaviors to Conserve Fuel page and on

Clean Cities Technical Response Service Team

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Energy industry returning to United States

From T. Bonne Pickens:
We live in the only country on Earth whose oil and gas production is increasing along with its reserves. America is enjoying an energy renaissance while the rest of world is suffering a decline in reserves and production and a corresponding increase in prices.

This is big news. Cheap, abundant, domestic energy affects everything from employment to cost of living, and from the environment to national security. It makes the U.S. more appealing to manufacturers. And our dependency on OPEC oil continues to decrease.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Twice As Many Public NGV Stations As Private

This article is shared here as a courtesy by NGV Today, which invites your subscription.

Public NGV fueling stations opening at more than twice the pace of private stations

The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center has added seven CNG stations and two LNG stations to its list of open natural gas fueling stations since NGV Today last published two weeks ago. One of the stations dispenses both CNG and LNG – the station Clean Energy Fuels has installed off I-270 in Granite City, Ill., just north of East Saint Louis.

As NGV Today reported a month ago, the number of open public access CNG stations now exceeds the number of private access stations. Since July 2012, public access CNG stations have opened at twice the rate of private stations. In the LNG fueling space, public stations have opened at three times the clip of private fueling stations during this same period.

NGV Tipping Point

This article is shared here through the courtesy of NGV Today, which invites your subscription.

Don't uncork the champagne, but the NGV tipping point may be coming into view

By Matthew I. Slavin

The North American NGV space is on a roll. It's much too early to pop champagne corks. But to anyone who's been reading NGV Today for the past year, the signs of the upward trajectory are unmistakable. Let's take a back of the envelope look at some of the pluses racked up:
  • NGVs are being taken seriously: You know this is true when you attract the attention of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Financial Times. All have all run feature articles highlighting the fuel cost savings and tailpipe emissions benefits of using natural gas as a transportation fuel. Reuters energy columnist John Kemp opined late last year (p. 3) that within two to three years NGVs should near "a tipping point...enough for natural gas to establish a major beachhead in the transport market, pitting crude oil in direct competition with natural gas." These news features highlight trend-setters in freight transport like UPS and Frito-Lay making the move to NGVs, boosting the visibility of natural gas transportation, and that all of the Big Three automakers are producing NGVs; Ford now offers a CNG option throughout its commercial truck line (p. 1). These articles did not dismiss the hurdles that still need to be overcome, but it's a good sign when news on NGVs moves from trade publications to the world's most influential news outlets.
  • Low natural gas prices are here to stay: The at-the-pump price-spread advantage natural gas enjoys over diesel is the single most important driver of NGV deployment (p. 1) decisions by fleet managers. Concern about possible price volatility in natural gas markets ranks high after NGV incremental costs and access to fueling stations as a barrier to accelerated adoption of vehicles fueled by natural gas. Growing evidence shows that natural gas will continue to enjoy a significant pricing advantage over petroleum fuels for years to come. Most recently, global energy consulting firm IHS-CERA reported that North America's plentiful supplies of natural gas from unconventional resources means that the price spread advantage natural gas enjoys over petroleum fuels is sustainable through at least 2035 (p. 1). This should increasingly dispel concerns about natural gas price volatility as an impediment to purchasing NGVs.
  • Upward NGV sales trajectory: Navigant Research projects that annual sales of natural gas trucks and buses will almost quadruple by 2022 (p. 2), to 36,700 from 10,000 in 2013. Sales of Ford's CNG trucks grew from zero in 2008 to 15,000 last year. UPS ordered 900 LNG tractors last year, setting the pace in the growing heavyduty NGV truck space. Forty percent of all refuse trucks entering service are natural gas fueled and CNG buses account for between 25 and 30 percent of new bus deliveries to transit agencies; ready mixer trucks (p. 4) and potentially, school buses (see page 1), offer routes for significant additional NGV deployments. Natural gas as a transportation fuel is poised for growth in marine (see page 4), rail (p. 3), and mining truck (p. 4) propulsion. To meet growing demand, Navigant says that almost 1,700 natural gas fueling stations will be built through 2022, which will more than double the number open today.
  • States are getting it: A growing number of state governments are embracing the benefits of seeing more NGVs on their roads is growing. Twenty-three governors have signed on to an agreement to aggregate NGV purchasing for their fleets aimed at lowering NGV purchase costs (p. 8). At least 28 states now offer grants, rebates, loans, or tax credits as an incentive to purchase/convert NGVs, build NGV fueling stations, or buy natural gas for transportation fueling. The past couple of years saw Indiana, Wyoming, West Virginia, New York, Oregon, and Mississippi enact programs aimed at growing the number of NGVs (and other alternative fueled vehicles) operating on their roads, andOhio may join them this year with an NGV tax credit (p. 5). Most of the state incentive programs don't equate to the millions of dollars in grants or rebates to spur the NGV market offered by Florida, Pennsylvania, California, and Texas; a club Colorado will soon join with $30 million for grants (p. 1) to seed NGV purchases and fueling infrastructure development. But more states now provide such incentives than at any time in the past. A bill in the Utah Legislature aims to convert half of all passenger vehicles in the state's fleet to CNG vehicles (p. 6) while a move is underway in the Oklahoma legislature to provide millions to bring NGVs and CNG stations to every county in the state (see page 6). That more states, the "Laboratories of Democracy," are championing natural gas transportation shows that they "get it," a big plus, particularly with the federal government's seeming inability to get behind a sustained program to grow the nation's NGV space.

Savings From CNG School Buses

This article is shared here through the courtesy of NGV Today, which invites your subscription.

Up to $1.8 billion in potential fuel cost savings from a national fleet of CNG school buses

Just north of Fort Meyers on Florida’s Gulf coast, the Charlotte County school district is moving on a plan to convert one-third of the district’s fleet of 100 school buses to CNG buses. A solicitation led the district to enter negotiations with a Floridabased CNG station developer and operator for a CNG station to fuel the buses the district hopes to purchase. Jerry Olivo, the district’s assistant superintendent for support services, says he aims to reach a fueling agreement that he can present to the school district’s board of directors this spring. It would likely resemble a CNG fueling agreement in place with the school district in Florida’s Leon County, home to Tallahassee, in the panhandle.

Under a 20-year agreement with Leon County Public Schools, CNG station developer and operator Nopetro built a 6-lane fast-fill CNG station at its own expense, which fuels 44 CNG school buses, with another 15 CNG to be added. The public station also fuels refuse trucks operated by Leon County, the City of Tallahassee and WastePro; and tractors owned by Saddle Creek Logistics. The school district’s throughput provided the anchor revenue Nopetro needed to extend CNG fueling to a part of the Sunshine state where public CNG fueling was previously unavailable.

Estimates place the number of CNG school buses in the U.S. at between 2,500 and 3,000, a small number relative to the approximately 480,000 school buses in the U.S., but a number that is growing. There is no central register of all school districts operating CNG buses. But with over 400 CNG buses out of a fleet of 1,600 buses in total, the Los Angeles Unified School District operates the largest fleet of CNG school buses in the country. Thirty-one of the 80 buses operated by California’s Montebello Unified School District run on CNG and California’s Arcadia Unified School District just placed 10 CNG school buses into service.

In Pennsylvania, the Ardmore school district runs about half of its 114 buses on CNG; 50 CNG buses are used to bus students to school in Butler County; and 58 of Lower Merion School District’s 113 buses run on CNG. Pennsylvania’s Rose Tree Media School District is converting 14 existing diesel buses to CNG with plans to purchase eight more, moves estimated to save the district $1 million in fuel costs over 20 years.

In Missouri, Kansas City Public Schools operates 47 CNG buses and Parkway School District, in western St. Louis County, operates 30. Lee’s Summit School District in Missouri is deploying what will total 149 CNG school buses (p. 1), along with 47 other CNG vehicles used by the district’s maintenance staff. Lee’s Summit schools estimates that it will save $11 million in fuel and maintenance costs over the long term as a result of making the move to CNG. Mansfield Independent School District in the Dallas Area operates 20 CNG buses out of a fleet of 180. Georgia’s Murrieta Valley Unified School District placed 10 CNG school buses into service in 2013 and the public school district in Portland, Maine placed an equal number of CNG buses into service in 2012. Students have begun travelling in CNG school buses in Weld County, Colorado, courtesy of a $5 million grant Noble Energy made to the county schools to buy 7 CNG school buses and build a CNG fueling station (page 5 of the Feb. 4, 2014 NGVToday).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Webinar on Federal Renewable Energy Policy

The American Council on Renewable Energy has organized a webinar for Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at 9 AM PT.
Traditionally, the State of the Union address has launched the policy agenda. The 2014 State of the Union speech addressed many points on energy and climate that are important to the renewable energy community, the nation and the world.

What specifically did the President say about energy? Is it possible to turn words into policy and policy into actions?

Renewable energy has had a long history of bipartisan support, but we are entering an election year with the mid-term Congressional elections set for November. Is there a way to get support from both sides of the aisle, or will the President have to go it alone?

Join seasoned veterans of Congress and the regulatory arena for a discussion on how all of this will affect renewable energy policy and the market in 2014 and beyond.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Clean Cities Supports Both CNG and LNG

Andrew Littlefair refutes reports that Clean Cities is backing off from its commitment to LNG. "Clean Energy's LNG station build-out was - and still is - ahead of LNG truck deployments. The 400 hp version of the Cummins Westport 11.9-liter didn't really start circulating with the earliest adopters until fall 2013."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Vehicle and Infrastructure Cash-Flow Evaluation Model Updated

The update is intended "to allow fleets greater flexibility in determining payback periods for natural gas vehicles and fueling infrastructure." VICE can be downloaded from the Tools page of the Alternative Fuels Data Center.
To use the VICE Model, users input fleet-specific data, including number of vehicles, vehicle types, fuel use, and planned vehicle-acquisition schedules. The tool then provides numerical and graphical presentations of return on investment, payback period, and annual GHG savings.