Author: U.S. Gain
U.S. Gain

5 Steps to Simplify Your Transition to Alternative Fuel

Does the switch from diesel to an alternative fuel sound appealing, but you just don’t know where to start? If that’s the case, you’re in luck because we do and are here to help. In just five steps, you could be on your way to reducing your fleet’s emissions and carbon footprint with alternative fuel. Now, where to start…

1. Choose the alternative fuel(s) right for your application

Alternative fuel comes in many forms including renewable natural gas (RNG), compressed natural gas (CNG), electric, hydrogen, biodiesel, and renewable diesel. These options provide reduced emission levels which result in efficient, eco-friendly solutions. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ for alternative fuel; instead, your selection should be tailored to your operations and sustainability goals.

For many fleets, especially those that return-to-base, natural gas is often the fuel of choice. In the refuse market for example, 60% of new vehicles run on natural gas. Food service fleets, mail haulers, school districts and transit agencies have also found success with natural gas thanks to the environmental and economic benefits it offers. Not only are fleets significantly reducing emissions through use of natural gas, but also obtain grant funding for new vehicle purchases, receive tax credits instead of penalties, avoid fuel price volatility, and in some markets, receive clean fuel credits. Additionally – the natural gas fueling network is expansively built out.

Various forms of clean diesel are also available and pose several benefits. Biodiesel use is mandated in various regions across the nation. You may be using blends of cleaner diesel without even knowing it. Renewable diesel is an interesting fuel that continues to develop. As a drop-in fuel for existing diesel engines, it’s appealing, but because of its newness, price can be an issue for many fleets.

And – more options are coming. Battery electric and fuel cell electric commercial vehicles continue to develop, with infrastructure builds also in the works. Much is yet to be done, but as these technologies develop, they’re certainly worth evaluating for your fuel plan, especially short routes.

Read more about alternative fuel options here.

2. Define your fueling profile – where and how

A successful transition to alternative fuel is heavily contingent upon your fueling model.

First, consider where you’ll need to fuel.

  • If public, you can use the Alternative Fueling Station Locator to find a station near you, or, can fuel with us at our network of natural gas stations. And – if a station isn’t available where you need it, reach out. New stations are constantly being built; your fleet could also choose to anchor a station and retain a portion of site profits.
  • If private, you’ll need to work with a fuel provider to determine the ideal configuration and equipment needed. Sites can be compact with no interruption to onsite traffic and easily expandable. Learn more about private fueling sites in this blog post.

Next, consider how you’ll fuel. Do you need fast-fill fueling or is time-fill better suited for your fleet? There are benefits to be had both ways, depending on how you’ll utilize the station.

3. Design your fleet

The next step to ensure a successful transition from diesel to alternative fuel is vehicle type and quantity. Based on the alternative fuel you select, many vehicle manufactures are available, like those you’d have with traditional diesel options. However, with alternative vehicle technologies, keep in mind new vehicles are customized for your needs and may take several months for delivery. Also – be sure to understand grant funding programs available in areas the vehicles will be used. You can find current programs here.

4. Don’t forget about maintenance

A critical, often overlooked step in the alternative fuel transition is that of maintenance. Once you decide on the vehicle technology right for your application, you’ll need to determine what maintenance needs exist and how these differ from diesel. If natural gas for example, is your fuel of choice, it’s essential to perform preventative maintenance measures more often than diesel, which sounds costly, but thanks to the clean burning fuel, maintenance costs can be less.

5. Engage all stakeholders

You’ve done your homework and now, what’s left, is to present findings to your internal stakeholders. The secret to a successful alternative fuel transition is communication. Change can be difficult and met with resistance, unless those impacted are part of the process, rather than left on the outside. Whether it’s senior leadership, drivers, maintenance technicians or customer service – ensure your team is informed of the transition to alternative fuel along with the many benefits provided to your company, employees and customers.

Well, now you’re equipped with the details for what, where, and how to switch to alternative fuel, only one question remains: when? The answer? Now! The environmental benefits of transitioning to alternative fuel are immediate. If you’re considering this for your fleet and want help during this process, contact us today!

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