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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u May 25, 2012 2:09 PM Flag

    COLUMN-Will US federal fleet help alternative fuel switch? Kemp

    COLUMN-Will US federal fleet help alternative fuel switch? Kemp

    Fri May 25, 2012 11:19am EDT
    By John Kemp

    May 25 (Reuters) - Widespread use of alternative motor fuels has been hampered by lack of fuel distribution infrastructure, despite strongly favourable economics for alternatives to gasoline and diesel, and a range of financial incentives offered by U.S. federal and state governments.

    The U.S. federal government's commitment to alternatives, coupled with renewed interest among large commercial fleet operators, encouraged by the big spread between cheap natural gas prices and the high cost of petroleum-derived fuels, could provide the critical mass of demand to support the roll out of a nationwide alternative fuel system.

    But effectiveness will be maximised only if federal agencies and private fleet operators settle on a relatively limited number of alternative technologies, at least in particular areas, rather than fragment their consuming power across the full range country wide. Early indications are not hopeful.


    Federal law defines alternative fuel vehicles broadly to include both those running on alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), hydrogen and high blend ethanol (E85) as well as certain qualifying hybrid electric vehicles run on a combination of regular petroleum and electricity (42 USC 13211).

    In 2010, there were nearly 1 million vehicles running on alternative fuels in use across the United States, according to the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center, up from less than 400,000 a decade earlier. In addition, more than 2 million hybrid electric vehicles had been sold over the same period.

    Alternative fuelled vehicles are still a tiny minority of vehicles on U.S. roads, but the number is increasingly rapidly. The problem is that few are actually filling up with alternatives to gasoline owing to the lack of outlets actually selling alternative fuels such as E85 or LNG.

    There were just 10,000 fuelling stations dispensing alternative fuels in 2011 (up from less than 7,000 in 2010). Of those, a little over 3,300 were supplying electricity (six times as many as in 2010 making this the fastest growing segment of the alternative fuel infrastructure).

    But less than 1,000 dispensed compressed natural gas, and just 45 dispensed LNG. Even E85 was available from fewer than 2,500 outlets.

    In contrast, there are almost 160,000 retail gasoline stations across the country, and many more private refuelling facilities owned by large fleet operators such as UPS, transit systems, and the federal government.

    Availability problems are compounded by the uneven distribution of alternative fuelling stations. There are lots in California, the nation's biggest vehicle market, and another concentration in the ethanol-producing states of the Midwest such as Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota, but not many in the rest of the country.

    Drivers in Ohio have access to

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    • Can't you put all your socialist green rantings in one message? It would save yourself a great deal of time. Nobody on an right-wing oil board wants to read your tripe anyway...The best you accomplish is nothing, at worst you anger enough people into burning even more fuel than they otherwise would...

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