Global supplies of natural gas (NG) are abundant today due to the deployment of nontraditional extraction methods such as hydraulic fracturing. Consequently, prices of NG are staying low and its appeal as a fuel for ground vehicles is increasing. As fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards become increasingly stringent in world markets—particularly for medium and heavy duty vehicles (MHDVs), where electrification is less practical—NG is becoming an attractive alternative to diesel.
NG is an appealing option for reducing operating costs and CO2 emissions for many applications, especially high-mileage fleet operators and consumers in regions with high retail prices for liquid fuels. However, NG vehicles (NGVs) are only useful if refueling infrastructure is readily available. The density of refueling infrastructure varies widely and is frequently tied to government incentive programs. In addition, without a critical mass of vehicles in need of fuel, station operators are unwilling to invest in equipment—and without ready access to stations, retail customers do not buy NGVs. Yet, because NG is well-suited to larger vehicles such as refuse trucks and buses, fleet operators frequently take advantage of the low fuel cost by installing private stations in vehicle depots. According to Navigant Research, the total number of global NGV refueling stations is expected to grow from 23,001 in 2015 to 38,890 in 2025.