SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The 11th annual Georgia Clean Energy Roadshow was held Thursday at the Georgia Tech Savannah Campus highlighting the use of clean and alternative fuels for logistics and transportation.
Panels of experts from manufacturers, utilities and users talked about the types of fuels that are alternatives to traditional fossil fuels.
An advancement that is currently gaining momentum is plug-in electric vehicles. Many major auto manufacturers have been working to make more of their lineups electric.
There are still shortcomings to completely switching to all-electric vehicles. First, charging stations are not widely available in many parts of the country, including in Georgia. Second, proper electric infrastructure to support charging stations is not everywhere.
Lastly, the range of driving relative to how long it takes is not on par yet to replace every need for private people or industry. Those issues are now starting to change quickly.
Federal incentives in the way of funding, tax breaks and rebates are becoming available for upgrading the electric infrastructure that supports additional electric vehicle charging stations. Rebates are available for individual homeowners and builders who install charging stations in their garages.
With the limitations of charging and driving range, electrified vehicles are not practical for every application but are perfect for daily commuters and for local transportation and logistic sectors that have a limited range and vehicles that return to a depot daily.
Georgia-based Blue Bird Corporation is developing and manufacturing plug-in electric school buses that can drive up to 100 miles on one charge and can fully charge in less than 8 hours. For most school bus routes, this provides plenty of range.
Blue Bird Corporation also says fully electric school buses are safer for students and foster better learning since students are not exposed to the exhaust of traditional diesel fuel.
There are applications that are not conducive to limited driving ranges. This is when other alternative fuels become very useful and effective.
Compressed natural gas (CNG), liquified natural gas (LNG) and propane are being used as an almost direct replacement for diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles. These fuels are not considered to be zero-emissions but are nearly zero.
CNG, LNG and propane emit very little particular matter in the exhaust and have a low carbon content. This means that they do not contribute to greenhouse emissions as much as traditional fossil fuels.
CNG, LNG and propane are not only clean-burning but are also more economical than fossil fuels. Twenty-three percent of the cost of these fuels is for the raw material. The other 77% is tied to processing and distribution costs.
For gasoline and diesel fuel, over 50% of the cost is for the raw material, making price spikes more noticeable. This means that if the cost of natural gas or propane increases dramatically, users will not notice it as much.
Currently, the price per gallon of liquid natural gas is about $2.20 compared to over $3.00 a gallon for diesel fuel.
In Georgia, natural gas and propane are becoming easier and more cost-effective for users to switch. Thanks to Atlanta Gas Light, I-95 from Jacksonville to Savannah has been designated as a natural gas corridor because of its availability.
In December 2022, a new kind of truck stop will be opening on Highway 21 in Port Wentworth.
This is a truck stop of the future. It will focus on alternative fuels, such as natural gas, propane, and charging stations for electric vehicles. Traditional gasoline and diesel fuel will also be available.