Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

National Renewable Energy Lab Offers Online CNG Tool

April 10, 2015

Photo : NREL
Photo : NREL

Compressed natural gas (CNG) has garnered interest as a transportation fuel in part because of its cost savings and price stability compared to conventional petroleum fuels.

"Building a Business Case for Compressed Natural Gas in Fleet Applications," a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), helps readers assess the various aspects of a new CNG vehicle and fueling infrastructure project to determine viability.

The publication details an enhanced version of a previous online modeling tool developed by NREL—the Vehicle Infrastructure and Cash-Flow Evaluation (VICE) model—that helps businesses and fleets evaluate the financial soundness of CNG vehicle and CNG fueling infrastructure projects. The tool, VICE 2.0, can now help assess projects to acquire vehicles and infrastructure, or to acquire vehicles only, according to NREL.

VICE 2.0 offers users visual and reporting enhancements, including graphic images of return on investment, cumulative cash flow, and payback periods, according to NREL. It also calculates petroleum displacement (annual and cumulative) and annual greenhouse gas reductions, and displays them based on the fleet's specific attributes.

The publication features an overview of VICE 2.0 and the default values for such factors as investment type, tax exemption status for fuel, and operations and incentives for base-case vehicles. In addition, the report addresses profitability and its sensitivity to parameters such as fuel cost and vehicle miles traveled.

The report and model are especially beneficial to fleets that are well-suited to using CNG, such as those with routes that start and end in the same location and are therefore able to refuel at a central location, according to NREL.

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