Natural Gas: The Fuel of Today and Tomorrow

One of the biggest recent developments in America—one that has affected industries from energy through manufacturing through transportation—is the natural gas boom.  It has created jobs and spurred an entirely new industry unto itself, and has brought about cheaper consumer electricity. It’s even responsible, in part, for the manufacturing reshoring initiative.

One of the industries in which natural gas is finding a huge place is in transportation—specifically trucking. In fact, it is estimated that by 2020, the global natural gas vehicle (NGV) fleet size will rise by 92%.  At present, the number of NGVs on the road, around the world, is 18.2 million. A recent report predicts that number to become 34.9 million in only seven years.

The U.S. trucking industry—transporting millions of manufactured goods throughout the country—has already begun to jump on board. They are increasingly replacing petroleum with cheaper, cleaner natural gas, and there are currently no signs of this stopping.

Big-name companies around the country are realizing the benefits of this switch. For example, U.P.S. recently made the decision to expand its number of NGVs from 112 to a whopping 800 by next year.  They—like many others—see the myriad benefits: reaping the rewards of federal and state incentives while representing themselves as green to increasingly conscious consumers. And, of course, there are the big-picture benefits: doing the right thing for the planet, and helping to move the country away from oil importing and toward self-reliance.  Finally, it’s good economics: the use of natural gas can save trucking companies up to $1.50 per gallon.

This isn’t, of course, an overnight change, and like all major transformations, it will take time; as of now, there are only 53 natural gas fueling stations in the U.S.  However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the momentum here is moving fast and ahead. It will be interesting to track its progress.