There are many good reasons to switch to vehicles with natural gas engines, such as saving money on fuel and on vehicle, a better ability to forecast operating costs and avoiding cold-weather problems.
Another top reason why many fleet operators invest in compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles is that they can drastically lower emissions. In fact, the 2022 State of Sustainable Fleets Report found that 96 percent of CNG users surveyed say CNG vehicles are equal to or better at reducing emissions than diesel and gasoline engines.
Why is it important to reduce emissions?
Motor vehicles are an indispensable tool for many businesses. Unfortunately, they can cause air pollution and contribute to climate change. The right upgrades can reduce emissions of both greenhouse gases and common pollutants, which impact air quality locally.
For some businesses, reducing emissions is a matter of being responsive to the needs of their customers. Garbage collection companies, for example, can improve their reputation in the communities they serve by operating cleaner and quieter trucks. Contracted school bus companies can differentiate by operating buses that don’t cause air pollution around schools at pickup time.
Some companies also have broader environmental, social and governance goals that include a reduction of emissions. Though emission reduction upgrades have a cost, many public companies share the view that ESG progress increases shareholder value in the long term.
In some cases, reducing emissions is a matter of compliance with environmental rules. The Port of Los Angeles, for instance, has strict emissions standards that drayage trucks serving the port must comply with.
Why pick natural gas to reduce fleet emissions?
There are several ways to reduce a vehicle’s greenhouse gas emissions. Using biofuels, for example, is a good way to make a vehicle’s operation more carbon neutral.
There are also other ways to scrub a vehicle’s exhaust from NOx, particulate matter and other pollutants. Diesel vehicles fitted with a particulate filter and a catalytic converter, for example, can operate with minimal emissions. When you switch to natural gas engines, you can do both.
Natural gas vehicles are a tried-and-true technology that has been around for decades. In the United States, about a third of all transit buses built each year run on natural gas. Beyond transit buses, there are many other examples of natural gas engines on trucks and buses.
There are many benefits of natural gas engines in transportation. You can reduce your fleet’s emissions of common pollutants and cut the level of greenhouse gases. Natural gas also tends to be significantly cheaper than petroleum fuels, so there is an immediate economic benefit when adopting natural gas engines.
Throughout 2021, CNG maintained a clear cost advantage and relative price stability when compared to the price volatility of diesel. CNG saw an approximately 3% price increase on average at public fueling stations whereas diesel prices increased nearly 19% nationwide and were, on average, 25% higher than the price of CNG on a DGE (Diesel Gallon Equivalent) basis. Consequently, fuel cost was a primary benefit of CNG users in the annual State of Sustainable Fleets survey, with 79% of respondents reporting lower costs as an advantage.
What outcomes should you expect with natural gas engines?
As you are upgrading a fleet of older vehicles, you can expect reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
A new transit bus equipped with a Cummins L9N natural gas engine, for example, will typically have 11% less well-to-wheels greenhouse gas emissions than an older diesel bus. (If the older bus is replaced with a new bus with the diesel version of the L9N engine, emissions would be reduced by only 6%). Replacing a medium sized fleet consisting of 100 transit buses with CNG buses can, on average, eliminate about 1,300 tons of CO2 emissions per year. That’s equivalent to taking 280 cars off the roads.
If renewable natural gas (RNG) is used, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can be even greater. Renewable natural gas is manufactured primarily using methane that comes from the decomposition of organic waste. This can include landfill gas or methane captured from wastewater treatment facilities or agricultural waste.
Using RNG brings the total carbon intensity score down, because RNG is made with methane that would have otherwise been off gassed. Capturing those gases prevents them from entering the atmosphere and reduces the total well-to-wheel score significantly. It can even drop the carbon intensity to below zero depending on the RNG feedstock. Renewable natural gas is functionally identical to natural gas obtained from fossil resources. Blending fossil natural gas with even small quantities of RNG can result in immediate environmental benefits. And every year RNG becomes a bigger percentage of all CNG being used in North America, contributing towards the role natural gas to play in our renewable future.
It doesn’t matter why you’re considering integrating natural gas vehicles into your fleet. Cummins has a range of CNG engine options to get the toughest jobs done.
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