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Natural gas

Natural gas is an odourless, colourless gas that is made of 90% methane. It is also non-toxic, lighter than air and disperses quickly, which minimizes ignition risk compared to gasoline. For transportation use, natural gas is compressed and stored in cylinders at between 3,000 and 3,600 pounds per square inch (psi). It is referred to as compressed natural gas or CNG.

Environmental Performance

Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) create 20% to 25% fewer greenhouse gases and substantially fewer smog-related emissions, especially compared with diesel engine vehicles.

Natural Gas in Fleet Operations

The major difference between a gasoline vehicle and a natural gas vehicle (NGV) is the fuel system. Light- to medium-duty NGVs can be “dedicated fuel,” meaning they operate only on natural gas, or “bi-fuel,” meaning they can operate on either natural gas or gasoline. Medium- to heavy-duty diesel equivalent NGVs are all dedicated fuel. Some medium- to heavy-duty vehicles use LNG (the liquefied form of CNG), with technology supplied by Westport, a BC company. Fleets switching to natural gas need to install a new fuelling infrastructure in order to fuel their vehicles on site. This infrastructure would include pressurized tanks and pumps.

Natural gas is publicly available at a number of BC natural gas stations. In BC it is typically priced 20-40% cheaper than gasoline.

A prime market for natural gas has been high fuel usage fleets, such as TransLink, which operates over 50 re-powered natural gas buses in Metro Vancouver. Phase 1 of TransLink’s alternative fuel test program report is available online. Phase 2 is expected to summarize TransLink’s experience with state-of-the-art CNG buses and re-powered CNG buses that operate on a blend of natural gas and hydrogen.

Few auto manufacturers are making new light-duty NGVs for the North American market. The most common approach is after-market conversion of gasoline vehicles. While the initial capital cost is significant, there are operating cost savings over the life of the vehicle, depending on the cost of natural gas. Lordco, the largest after-market auto parts supply firm in BC, uses a fleet of after-market converted NGV vehicles to deliver parts across Vancouver.

Canada is a Technology Leader

BC companies are leaders in every segment of the NGV industry including manufacturers of components, fuelling systems, engines, and vehicles; manufacturers of refuelling equipment (compressors, high pressure storage cylinders, dispensers and associated equipment) and builders and operators of refuelling stations. A list of companies can be found on the Fortis website.

Fortis offers incentive grants of up to $10,000 towards the purchase of a factor-built NGV or the conversion of a vehicle five years old or newer to natural gas, provided the vehicle meets federal emissions and quality control requirements and can refuel in the Lower Mainland. Contact Fortis BC for details.

Our Partners

The E3 Fleet Program reflects the commitment and expertise of many people, including some of the country’s most innovative fleet managers. All have a common passion – to see Canada’s fleets take a cleaner, green road to the future.

The Fraser Basin Council thanks our partners at Climate Change Central (Alberta) and Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (Fleet Challenge Ontario) for helping E3 Fleet flourish as a national program.

We also acknowledge our E3 Fleet Charter members: Auto-Gas Propane, BC Hydro, BC Ministry of Environment, City of Coquitlam, Corporation of Delta, Enbridge, City of Hamilton, Hydro One, City of Kelowna, Township of Langley, District of Maple Ridge, City of North Vancouver, Novex Couriers, City of Prince George, District of Saanich, University of BC and Municipality of Whistler. We’ve enjoyed the journey so far, and it’s only just begun!

E3 Fleet in Brief

E3 Fleet is a Canada-wide program that helps public and private sector organizations green up their vehicle fleets. E3 Fleet offers information and tools to help you increase fuel efficiency in your fleet, reduce harmful emissions, manage expenses, and incorporate new technologies or fuels.

E3 Fleet offers Fleet Review and Fleet Rating, unique opportunities for members to boost fleet performance and receive recognition for their achievements.

E3 Fleet is a partnership program of the Fraser Basin Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing sustainability, with a focus on climate change and air quality, healthy watersheds and water resources, and sustainable regions and communities.

Reach Us

For more information on the E3 Fleet program, Plug-in BC and other green fleet initiatives, contact:

Charlotte Argue
Transportation Analyst
E3 Fleet / Green Fleets

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC  V6C 1V5

T: 1-888-70-FLEET (1-888-703-5338)