Demand for clean fuel vehicles running on natural gas is gaining momentum due to the rise in concern about environment protection. Governments across the world are promoting the usage of natural gas vehicles owing to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, compressed natural gas (CNG) is the primarily used form of natural gas in vehicles worldwide. This gas is compressed at high pressures of about 200 bars and is then dispensed into the CNG tanks of vehicles. CNG is used largely in light duty vehicles, cars, and buses. It is generally not used for heavy duty transport vehicles. About 5 liters of CNG is equivalent to 1 liter of diesel. This makes it useless for long distance heavy duty trucks owing to the high volume and the weight of CNG. This paves the way for liquefied natural gas (LNG) for usage in vehicles.
LNG is natural gas that has been liquefied at a temperature of -161 °C. Its volume is about 1/600 times that of natural gas. LNG as transportation fuel would decrease cost and carbon emission when compared to its crude oil alternatives. LNG fueling stations are gradually gaining popularity as they possess higher energy density than CNG, higher volume of natural gas, and their storage requires highly insulated tank owing to low temperatures. Hence, LNG is suited for long distance heavy duty vehicles. Since LNG as a fuel are best suited for heavy-duty vehicles hence while developing LNG fueling stations special care must be taken for accommodation of these vehicles.
In terms of type of station, the LNG fueling station market can be bifurcated into permanent station and mobile station. Permanent stations are akin to any other fuel stations where dispensers are fixed and firmly attached to the ground and LNG is stored in storage tanks. It is dispensed into the vehicles through fuel dispensers. Under the mobile station type, an LNG tanker with a side mounted LNG dispenser attached to it is utilized. This type of fueling station can serve various small fleet of vehicles and can also be used for emergency refueling of vehicle.
Based on application, the LNG fueling station market can be classified into vehicles and ship. The vehicles application segment consists of automobiles running on LNG. These are primarily heavy duty vehicles and other vehicles utilizing LNG as fuel source. The ship application segment comprises ships and barges running on LNG.
In terms of region, the LNG fueling station market can be divided into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific is expected to lead the market during the forecast period, followed by North America. This dominance in the market by Asia Pacific is primarily due to the large number of LNG fuel stations in China. The LNG fueling station market in Asia Pacific is anticipated to expand at a significant pace during the forecast period due to the increase in demand for natural gas as a cleaner alternative for other fossil fuels and rise in number of heavy duty vehicles in the region.
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Key companies operating in the LNG fueling station market include Cryostar, Clean Energy Fuels, ENN Energy Holding, Kunlun Energy Company Limited, FortisBC, ENGIE, Sinopec, CNOOC, and Natural Gas Vehicles for America.