Natural Gas: The New Gasoline

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted July 7, 2011

The U.S. is experiencing a shale gas boom like no other.

And despite some of the moratoria on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, natural gas is as abundant as ever across the country.

That’s why General Motors (NYSE: GM) is partnering with Westport Innovations Inc (NASDAQ: WPRT) to develop engines for natural gas-powered passenger vehicles.

Natural gas is significantly cheaper than regular gasoline – up to $2 a gallon cheaper.

It’s also much cleaner – the carbon emissions are significantly reduced, and some states have even allowed natural gas to be included in their renewable standards.

And since all natural gas is coming from domestic deposits, there’s no dealing with imports. Prices won’t rise according to foreign influence.

However as of right now, mostly only buses and heavy-duty trucks have natural gas engine capabilities.

And there are only roughly 900 public natural gas fueling stations across the country.

So how convenient would natural gas-powered vehicles actually be for the average family?

Very convenient, if the car could be filled up at home.

The proposed design would be a hybrid vehicle with two fuel tanks – the large one would hold gasoline, and the smaller one would be for compressed natural gas, or CNG.

The CNG could actually be accessed through the home’s natural gas line, and so the small tank could be filled up right on your own property.

The gasoline tank would be for longer trips, so once the natural gas runs out you could stop at any regular gas station.

That fixes the problem of minimal natural gas fill stations.

And another solution to that would be more stations.

Just last month, Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ: CLNE) opened two public natural gas fueling stations in Chicago.

These stations are targeted toward a growing network of natural gas-powered public transportation vehicles, including taxis, shuttle buses, vans, and trucks.

All of this is part of what the city is calling the Chicagoland network.

And the government is pushing for natural gas as well.

This past spring, a new bill was proposed called the Natural Gas Act.

According to this bill, consumers would receive tax credits on buying a natural gas-powered vehicle and linking their home natural gas system to fuel the car.

They would also receive a $0.50 per gallon fuel credit on natural gas.

The bill has not yet passed, but the support behind it has led officials to speculate that it could pass within the year.

And its no surprise – the more dependent we become on domestic natural gas, the less dependent we will be on foreign oil.

And that would lead to a huge boost in the national economy.

This GM and Westport deal could lead to a revolution in the way Americans drive.

That’s all for now,


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