Natural gas is poised to become the dominant energy source in the United States in the next 20 years, surpassing petroleum, just as petroleum surpassed coal in the 1950s and coal surpassed wood in the 1880s, according to the Department of Energy.
As the United States is said to have enough natural gas available to meet the next 100 years worth of energy requirements for the country, the nation’s dependence on foreign markets will diminish, one of the primary goals of encouraging natural gas usage in transportation.
As Ross Harding of Energy Launch Partners said Friday at the grand opening of the Langdale Fuel CNG station in Valdosta, “This is a completely different way of doing business, and it’s fortuitous, because natural gas allows us to work on the same problems that the rest of the world has been addressing for years.”
The Langdale Fuel CNG station is the eighth in the state of Georgia, is one of 677 stations in the country, and is the only one located on the Interstate 75 corridor between Atlanta and Tampa. The closest station to Valdosta is currently in Tallahassee, which has one of the first school systems in the country converting to all CNG school buses, a savings of $5,000 per bus per year, according to the Leon County School System.
Why Natural Gas
With prices at the gas pumps volatile and unpredictable in recent years, interest in utilizing alternative fuels has increased exponentially. While the production of ethanol, biofuels and renewable diesel has gained in popularity and usage in the last decade, none are considered alternative fuels by the Internal Revenue Service, according to the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, but compressed and liquified natural gas are. Financial incentives for businesses and citizens, along with increased availability, are tipping the scales toward the use of natural gas for transportation to resolve the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2010, the U.S. imported about 49 percent of the petroleum it consumed, of which two-thirds was used in transportation. “With much of the world’s petroleum reserves located in politically volatile countries, the United States is vulnerable to supply disruptions.”
Natural gas already accounts for around one quarter of the energy used in the U.S., according to the DOE, but it is being used primarily in heating, cooking, electric power production and industrial uses. The trend, according to the DOE, is to extend that usage into the nation’s transportation infrastructure.