Natural Gas – An Alternative To Fossil Fuels

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By admin | August 30, 2008

What would be your reaction if I told you that you could fuel up the car for 0.87 per gallon in comparison to the painful experience of paying upwards of $4.00?  Would you be interested?  If I told you that you could reduce CO2 emissions by 20%, would that catch your eye? 

If so, just talk to the good folk in Utah.  There is a very real movement on in that state.  Smart folks in Utah fuel their automobiles now with natural gas, and the numbers are rising. 

This of course is not without its own frustrations.  Utahans are so obsessed with natural gas-driven vehicles that they are scouring the Internet and buying up everything in the country that will run on natural gas.  The demand for these vehicles is so strong that people are beginning to flip these cars as people flip real estate.  Used car lots around the state are being filled with Honda Civic GX’s as fast as dealers can find them, and they are being snatched up as soon as they hit the lot. 

Utah is lucky in the fact that Questar Gas, the public utility, has opened compressed gas stations around the state.  The only frustrations seen at the pumps is when demand is high – as it usually is – and the compressors needed to drive the stations run low, stopping the dispensing of natural gas.  Some drivers are getting to the stations in the wee hours just to insure that they have a good supply. 

In my last post, The Problems Facing Wind Power, I told about T. Boone Pickens and his plan to bring natural gas as an alternative fuel to the fore.  Natural gas is a good alternative, although it should not be a permanent solution.  I think Pickens sees a lot of opportunity here, which is okay.  He is, after all, a businessman.  Driving this solution, however, is like all good things – it comes with its own unique set of problems.

The biggest problem facing the use of natural gas is of course infrastructure.  Gas companies are unwilling to spend the needed dollars to set up stations that will provide natural gas fillips.  The range of a vehicle powered by natural gas is much shorter than one propelled by gasoline – about half.  Car manufacturers are hesitant on building natural gas vehicles until the problem of infrastructure is corrected.  And of course, the lack of natural gas powered vehicles will be felt across the country because of this Catch 22 situation. 

States like California, Arizona and Oklahoma are taking the lead in the natural gas alternative.  California has a proposal on the ballot this fall to raise $5 billion in bonds to pay rebates to consumers who buy a natural gas vehicle. 

If you think this is just a flash in the pan, remember that in the early 90’s, Congress mandated a fleet of cars that had the capability to run on alternative fuels for governmental vehicles.  Questar reports a 204% increase in sales of natural gas from its 21 filling stations around the state of Utah. 

A struggle for alternative fuels is expected.  A lot of the success will depend on the cooperation of not only the government, but car manufacturers and oil companies.  If these differences and infrastructure problems are solved, we will see a major contribution to stopping our dependence on foreign oil.  And that, boys and girls, is where it is at.

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Topics: Renewable Energy | 6 Comments »

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