Current Natural Gas Infrastructure Can Accommodate Future Conversion to Near-Zero Transportation Technology

The emergence of natural gas (NG) as an abundant, inexpensive fuel in the United States has highlighted the possibility that it could play a significant role in the transition to low carbon fuels. It is often cited as a “bridge” to low carbon fuels in the transportation sector. Major corporations are already investing billions of dollars to build NG fueling infrastructure to expand its use in U.S. trucking fleets.

In California, NG fueling infrastructure is expanding, especially in and around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the use of NG-fueled medium- and heavy-duty fleets is currently on an upswing. The state is relying in part on the development and use of alternative fuels such as renewable natural gas (RNG) and hydrogen, which have low greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions, to meet its climate change and air quality goals.

This policy brief summarizes findings from the research project which examines how NG infrastructure can be economically and technologically synergistic for both NG and RNG in the near term, and for RNG and other renewables such as hydrogen in the long term. In particular, it examines optimum paths for developing infrastructure in the near term that will accommodate alternative fuels once they become available at the commercial scale. The original design of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) provides time for the development of advanced, near-zero technologies. The research considers the use of LCFS credits in its analysis.