Renewable Energy & Sustainability News

Why aren’t there more compressed natural gas trucks on the road?


Compressed natural gas (CNG) is the cleanest burning transportation fuel and produces 20% to 30% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum. So why are diesel-powered vehicles still dominating the North American trucking industry?

In 2014, trucking industry experts predicted that sales of compressed natural gas vehicles would double from the previous year to nearly 16,000 units. In actuality, there was something like 10,500 trucks sold.

That’s not to say that demand for CNG vehicles – or opportunity for natural gas providers – is dwindling. Last year brought the highest volume of fleet replacements and new truck production (of all kinds) since 2006.

Some of the country’s largest corporations are specifically upping their compressed natural gas fleet. UPS ordered about 300 gas-powered trucks in 2014 and Wal-Mart, Office Depot, Lowe’s, and Procter & Gamble are all requesting their trucking suppliers use CNG vehicles as part of their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and pollution caused by diesel fuel.

Taking all of this into account, last year’s CNG truck sales jumped 20% over 2013 – something to celebrate, sure – but the numbers fell short of initial projections. Why?

One reason cited in this Wall Street Journal article is the limited availability of CNG refueling stations. While diesel is within easy reach, there are just 1,500 compressed natural gas stations in the United States and only about half of them are open to the public. Some still don’t accommodate large trucks.

If we want to reap the environmental benefits that come from alternative fuel vehicles, then we’ll need to make compressed natural gas more readily available.

That’s one of our main missions here at Renergy. We use anaerobic digestion to turn organic waste into clean, renewable energy that can even be used to power large freight trucks. Then we partner with likeminded, eco-conscious companies like IGS Energy to make compressed natural gas available to the public. And we’re always developing new partnerships. Take a look at what we do.

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Cari Oberfield