Finding Alternative Fuel and EV Charging Infrastructure
Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) and Electric Vehicles (EVs) are increasing in numbers everyday in the US and around the world. Estimates of 1 million EVs by 2015 or 2016 have been predicted by the US government. AFVs purchases are likely to outpace EVs by a factor of up to 5 times this. At the same time, technologies exist that can assist these new vehicles in locating fueling/charging points, most notably GPS and cloud networking for location of fuel points. The US Department of Energy (DOE) and others have compiled fueling locations and other data to make it easy for alternative vehicle drivers to find a fuel point and be able to plan travel without range anxiety:
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has developed a useful Alternative Fuels Locator and others have also compiled fueling locations and other data to make it easy for alternative vehicle drivers to find a fuel point and be able to plan travel without range anxiety. For details, please see our Station Locator.
Natural Gas and Propane Autogas Vehicles Fueling
Nationally, compared to the 160,000 gasoline and diesel fueling locations in the US, relatively few Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) and Propane Autogas Vehicle (PAV) fueling stations are now available. For the natural gas, the choices are Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) or Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). For each fueling location, an investment in fueling equipment, supporting infrastructure and installation must be made. For public and private fueling, owners commonly register their sites with networks so drivers may easily find them.
- CNG Vehicle owners fuel up with utility natural gas, either at their residences, workplace or at retail fueling locations. CNG equipment includes gas compression and dispensing technology and in most cases, gas storage is included. CNG is the now the least costly of the alternative fuels, on an energy equivalent basis.
- LNG Vehicles owners fuel up with LNG that is most commonly delivered periodically to retail fueling locations as a refrigerated liquid (e.g. -260 F) into insulated storage tanks at the fuel stations, and the LNG is dispensed from the tanks to the vehicles. Some large fleet owners may install their LNG own cooling systems, but the investment is significant.
- Propane Autogas Vehicle owners fuel up with propane that is periodically delivered to retail fueling locations and fleets. Autogas is a type of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) that contains over 90% propane (LPG may have as little as 50% propane, the balance being mainly butane). Some PAV owners may have a home fueling system. Propane Autogas equipment includes storage tanks, pumping and dispensing technology. Propane Autogas provides the least expensive investment in infrastructure of these three alternative fuel choices.
As the retail price difference between alternative fuels and traditional fuels has increased in the last few years, the alternative fuel infrastructure has rapidly expanded. The cost of NG in particular is comparatively low due to substantial new gas exploration methods and discoveries of natural gas in the US since 2007. This has led to an increased in the number of public and private fueling locations. The best way to stay on top of the latest fueling locations is to access on line databases. The US DOE provides an excellent resource for location stations and prices by fuel type, as shown in the links to the left. These data can be accessed from Smart Devices or the Internet to locate fueling points when traveling. Examples of national and local networks of alternative fueling locations are available at the following links:
EV owners need a reliable network of charge stations available publicly and at workplaces. EV drivers may need access to charging at any time. In the US, the accessibility of public chargers is growing, so EV drivers need access to real-time locations of these chargers. EV charging networks have been established in the Cloud to provide useful features such as GPS location and routing, station availability and reservations and pricing. Examples of the national network of charging locations are available at the following links: