As drivers and fleets demand a less-expensive fuel with more stable pricing, the demand for natural gas fueling is on the rise. There are approximately 1,200 public and private CNG stations in the U.S. today, compared to 120,000 retail gasoline stations, according to a TIAX market analysis released by America’s Natural Gas Alliance.
As more vehicles are converted to run on CNG and automakers introduce natural gas versions of their existing models, drivers will need more places to fuel their vehicles. CNG also offers an attractive profit margin for retailers looking to be at the forefront of a fueling revolution.
However, there are many factors to consider before starting a new station or adding new dispensers to an existing site. The following list contains some of the things to keep in mind as you make a decision.
- Where would you like to have this station? Is it a new-build site, or an addition to a convenience store?
- Does a utility already provide natural gas to that location? If so, at what pressure and volume?
- Does your electrical provider have 480-volt, three-phase service available?
- What compressor packages will you need? CNG system integrators include ANGI Energy Systems, Atlas Copco, J-W Energy Company, Peake Fuel Solutions and Trillium CNG. More providers can be found at NGVC.org.
- What station installer should you use?
- Do you need engineering or site-plan analysis work?
- Have you considered national and local codes for everything from natural gas vessels to plumbing?
- What vendors will you use for point-of-sale systems and dispensers?
- Does your budget include ongoing site maintenance?
- Have you spoken to fleets in the area to understand their needs and future plans? Think about how soon you need to show a profit, and what the market will be like in three, five or 10 years.
- Does your state offer tax credits for dispensing an alternative fuel?
- Have you joined your local U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities organization? It may provide partnerships and collaborations that can lower your costs.
There are many other details that need to be addressed when building a CNG filling station or adding CNG to an existing location. Be sure your refueling equipment provider can address all details and needs.