Strategically Green - Making Money off Fuel
By: Greg Roche, vice president of infrastructure, Clean Energy Fuels
I.con 2011 attendees were eager to hear about the site selection criteria to locate fuel infrastructure stations for natural gas.
A new opportunity has come on the scene that is not only sustainable but can generate revenue for developers.
Clean Energy is a provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America and a global leader in the expanding natural gas vehicle market. In addition to its role as a distributor, the company also provides construction and operation of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid natural gas (LNG) fueling stations, biomethane production, vehicle conversion and compressor technology.
Trucks are the newest application for natural gas fuel and are showing promise in terms of saving money, reducing emissions and breaking U.S. dependence on foreign oil. According to the American Trucking Association there are:
- Over 3.5 million big rig trucks (Class 8) registered in the United States
- Trucks consume about 39 billion gallons of diesel fuel annually
- Switching to natural gas fuel saves over $1.00 per gallon and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by over 20 percent.
While the case for natural gas is compelling, commercial fleets are held back from converting to natural gas by the lack of fueling infrastructure and the cost of the truck. New natural gas fueling infrastructure that dispenses CNG and LNG is required. The infrastructure must be deployed in locations that are convenient to the truck driver near existing shipping lanes and logistics parks. Deploying infrastructure at existing gasoline and diesel fueling stations may not always be the answer. In many cases, new locations are needed. Property developers can use the need for fueling infrastructure to their advantage. Setting aside room for natural gas fueling is an attractor for sustainability-minded tenants that want to use clean-burning natural gas trucks. In addition, natural gas fueling stations are environmentally friendly since all equipment is above-ground and there are no issues with environmental contaminations from leaks.
Natural gas fueling stations are highly specialized and the market is still being developed. Partnering with a company like Clean Energy may help eliminate project risks and requires no capital from the developer. The partner provides real estate space for Clean Energy’s equipment and fueling islands in exchange for a royalty payment. Payments are ongoing with terms dependent upon the specifics of the deal.
Clean Energy fuels over 21,200 vehicles at 224 strategic locations across North America with a broad customer base in the refuse, transit, trucking, shuttle, taxi, airport and municipal fleet markets. The company has announced a 150-station nationwide deployment over the next two years with many located at Pilot-Flying J truck stops along the interstates. Others will be located at logistics centers in the process of being identified. While Clean Energy partners with all sizes of developers, the process is driven by location, location and location.
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