Earlier this month we explored how Renewable Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG) is sourced and produced. RLNG is a fuel that can be used to power vehicles instead of conventional gasoline or diesel, but can it replace these conventional fuel solutions?
At this point, the best candidates for using RLNG are medium-duty and heavy-duty fleet vehicles, particularly those used for hauling long distances. It’s a matter of getting the attention of companies who have the right types of vehicles to try this relatively new energy source.
Some companies have moved from gasoline or diesel to using conventional natural gas, so the progression may be easier for them to move on to a renewable natural gas solution. For example, United Parcel Services (UPS) reported it used approximately 61 million gallons of natural gas in 2016 to fuel its ground fleet, with 4.6 million of those gallons being renewable natural gas. While it’s a small percentage, that’s a great start. In fact, in 2017, UPS announced it would be purchasing 10 million gallons of RLNG through 2024 to continue this momentum.
In February 2019, the City of Fresno, California announced that it is up to the challenge to source some of its fleet vehicles in it’s refuse and landfill division using RLNG. The City has committed to using RLNG over the next two years to power 140 of its refuse trucks and estimates it will require approximately 1.6 million gallons of RLNG each year.
In a way, you could say this is a perfect example of recycling since RLNG is produced by purifying and cooling the methane gases from plant and animal waste, including landfill waste. Converting the naturally occurring methane gases from landfills to power the trucks that haul and process landfill waste not only sustains its own energy source but also helps keep the ozone layer healthy by eliminating the emission of these methane gases into the atmosphere.
Other organizations in California have also entered into similar contracts to use RLNG for their fleets including the City of Long Beach (77 vehicles), NASA Services in Montebello (50 vehicles), Arrow Services in LaPuente (30 trucks), and Burrtec (undisclosed number of vehicles.)
The US has experienced tremendous growth in the production of renewable natural gas. In 2018, Energy Manager Today reported an increase in US and Canadian produced renewable natural gas of 85% since 2014. The article further explains that while upfront production costs of renewable natural gas may be greater than conventional natural gas, producers are recouping investment costs in 10 years or less through the receipt of incentives and other sources of revenues.
Companies using renewable natural gas are also seeing savings by using RLNG. Chad Lindholm, Vice President of Clean Energy, claimed in a March 2019 article in Mass Transit Magazine that bus fleet companies would be able to see an average of 50% lower fuel costs using RLNG versus diesel fuel. Additionally, adding a fueling station and converting bus engines is relatively inexpensive when compared to those savings and can be completed in six to nine months.
In conclusion, while our consumer cars and trucks may not be relying on RLNG in the near future, renewable natural gas is a cost-effective and environmentally positive fuel solution for commercial fleet vehicles and has the capacity to replace conventional fuels.
Want to learn more about renewable natural gas solutions coming to our area?
Learn more about how you can use biofuels in your day-to-day life and your business from the Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition. The Coalition works to enhance the livability and sustainability of Rogue Valley residents.