Freight transport is essential for the mobilization of raw materials and finished products, thus affecting the competitiveness and costs of everything we buy (including the cost of food). Diesel is a major factor in transport costs and also generates a large amount of emissions of particulate and gaseous pollutants that are harmful to health and the environment.
The number of trucks (heavy, medium and light) using natural gas instead of diesel continues to grow in many countries, including the large 18-wheeler trucks. It is used compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid natural gas (LNG) as required. It is hoped that in future the share of natural gas in the energy matrix of the transport sector continue to increase.
The introduction of natural gas in the transport sector of a country usually begins with fleets of vehicles (trucks, buses and taxis) as these tend to be fed with fuel in a few locations, which facilitates the development of supply infrastructure needs when it does not exist broadly.
The conversion of the existing fleet of vehicles is done through bi-fuel or dual fuel modification, which lets you use natural gas or diesel at your convenience. Leading manufacturers of new trucks also make natural gas trucks, many of them dual fuel.
At the beginning of the introduction of natural gas in the transport sector, bi-fuel system avoids having to worry about any limitations on the availability of the distribution infrastructure. It is estimated that there would be no major supply problems if you have access to at least one supplier in the campus fleet and a limited number of service stations located at strategic sites that distribute natural gas vehicles, as well as diesel and gasoline.
In many countries, there are entire fleets of trucks of all kinds, which are composed of trucks that have been converted from diesel to natural gas or have been acquired as bi-fuel or gas only new trucks.
In Costa Rica, diesel is the most consumed fuel for transport, followed by electricity generation. For its part, the freight transporte uses about two-thirds of all diesel consumed in the transport sector as a whole, so any energy solution, economic, social and environmental policies in this sector must necessarily include heavy transport. A reduction in diesel consumption would help to significantly reduce transport costs, emissions to the environment and excessive dependence on foreign energy (expensive imported oil), which represents 66% of commercial energy consumed in the country.
The use of natural gas would lead to significant reductions in freight costs and emissions to the environment, benefiting the whole society, transport companies, environment and national competitiveness.
By Roberto Dobles, Former Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications of Costa Rica.
June 25, 2012