DRIVING TOWARD A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE by Fury Zaidi
The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. As more companies focus on the goal of becoming net zero, trucking fleets have an opportunity to make a substantial impact on the environment by transitioning to alternative fuels. While there are many technologies to consider and exciting innovations in development ranging from ubiquitous electric vehicles to hydrogen fuel cell technology, renewable natural gas (RNG) remains a readily available, low-carbon solution that fleets can implement now. Further, the transition to RNG as a fuel source might be easier than expected. Creating a successful alternative fuel programs requires finding the right mix of sustainable technologies for your fleet. Here are four reasons to consider RNG.
1. Environmental Impact
On average, RNG reduces GHG emissions by 80-plus% when compared to diesel. Also known as biogas or biomethane, RNG is produced by capturing methane that is released during the decomposition of organic materials found in landfills, wastewater, agricultural waste, food waste, and livestock manure. As the second-largest contributor to global warming, accounting for 30% of all GHG emissions – according to McKinsey Sustainability – methane is harmful when released into the atmosphere. In RNG productions, the methane is captured, processed, a repurposed into a sustainable, clean energy source with the lowest carbon intensity of any alternative fuel available on the market today. In some instances, it even has the potential to be carbon negative. One great example is RNG derived from livestock manure.
2. Fuel Savings and Credits
RNG offers a one-to-one replacement for diesel with significant saving on fuel costs. Rates vary by state, but in general, fleet owners can expect to save anywhere from 50% to 70% per gallon with RNG over diesel. According to NGV America, natural gas provides long-term fuel saving with limited volatility because approximately 25% of the pump price is related to the commodity cost compared to 50% for diesel. The outlook for continued price stability with natural gas is encouraging for fleet owners when it comes to recouping the upfront investment required to convert commercial vehicles from diesel to natural gas. In addition to saving captured at the pump, fleets that use RNG can benefit from federal and state programs that offer credits to end-users and consumers to help further reduce the cost of alternative fuels. These programs include the Renewables Identification Number (RIN) credits and the Alternative Fuels Tax Credit (AFTC), which was recently extended for three years by the federal government to provide consumers with a 50 cent per gallon tax credit for RNG. There are also state programs available, such as California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) Program, which offers credits for alternative fuel consumption based on the amount of carbon dioxide reduced.
Another important consideration when evaluating alternative fuel solutions is accessibility. Is there infrastructure in place that supports the use of the fuel or technology in consideration that makes it easily accessible to fleets? While the trucking industry is focused on the future with the push toward electric vehicles, a nationwide infrastructure of readily accessible charging stations is still several years away. There are millions of miles of natural gas pipelines throughout the US and a nationwide network of more than 1,800 natural gas fueling stations, making RNG a readily available option for fleets. Fleet companies also have the option to partner with one of the many RNG producers throughout the country to establish on-site fueling stations for their vehicles.
4. Proven Performance
RNG has served as an alternative fuel for more than a decade. With testing and adaption over the years, the operational performance of RNG vehicles has proven as efficient as diesel, with comparable power, torque, load, and range capabilities. In addition, the life span of natural gas engines is equivalent to diesel engines, assuming regular maintenance is performed as recommended by the manufacturer.
As high diesel prices remain a consistent trend and environmental concerns continue to drive the transition to more sustainable solutions, RNG offers one of the most affordable, accessible, and low-carbon alternative fuel options available today. Weighing the benefits of implementing RNG is an important consideration for achieving a near-term solution to overall long-term sustainability goals.
About the author:
Fury Zaidi is the CEO of Dallas-based NGV Global Group, a global manufacturing, technology, and logistics company dedicated to helping customers achieve their carbon reduction goals in transportation through alternative fuel solutions. Zaidi launched NGV Global’s legacy company (NGV Texas, Inc.) in 2008 with a vision to provide natural gas technologies both domestically and globally. To date, the company has inspected, serviced, repaired, and converted more than 15,000 natural gas engines. Zaidi also serves as CEO of NGV Global subsidiary GreenPath Logistics, a 100% alternative fuel fleet with about 200 medium- and heavy-duty trucks, including natural gas, hybrid, and deployed in 2023 – electric vehicles. To find out more, visit www.ngvglobalgroup.com and www.greenpathlogistics.com