January 26, 2012

Westport-powered UPS Gets Thumbs Up in New U.S. Energy Plan

On his post-State Of The Union cross-country tour, U.S. President Barack Obama visited United Parcel Service (UPS) facility in Las Vegas today, unveiling more details of his energy strategy.

Shifting commercial fleets to natural gas is a start, the president said. The government now needs to increase the use of natural gas vehicles for federal and municipal fleets with government incentives, work with the private sector to grow the refueling infrastructure, and spur research and development with a competition to create leading-edge technology around natural gas.

“Think about an America where more cars and trucks are running on domestic natural gas than on foreign oil,” said President Obama. “Think about an America where our companies are leading the world in developing natural gas technology and creating a generation of new energy jobs; where our natural gas resources are helping make our manufacturers more competitive for decades. We can do this.”

UPS was recognized by the president for running its fleet on natural gas, which is being fueled by Westport Innovations and Cummins Westport Inc. technology.

UPS runs 48 trucks with Westport technology between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and 34 in Salt Lake City. In addition, 700 package vans with CWI engines are running in the western U.S.

Westport has worked for some time with partners in the U.S. to foster growth in the natural gas market for heavy-duty use, such as Class 8 trucking. Clean Energy Fuels – which provides refueling services for the UPS Las Vegas facility - announced its route plan on January 12 for the first 150 liquid natural gas (LNG) fueling stations for heavy-duty, on-road trucking.

The demand for natural gas transportation in the U.S. isn’t limited to the heavy duty market. Recently Westport has made significant investments in both the natural gas research & development, and manufacturing and assembly sector in the U.S. Westport has invested in a new Westport LD Michigan Technology Centre in Plymouth, Michigan and an assembly facility in Louisville, Kentucky.

“By supplying Westport WiNG Power System for the Ford F250 and F350 pickups we are also providing a natural gas solution for industry to run their light-duty fleets on a much more economical fuel,” said Ian Scott, President of Westport LD.

January 25, 2012

Yes We Can ... Shift North America to Natural Gas

In last night’s State of The Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama outlined his plans for national economic stimulation, underpinned by a focus on job skills, domestic energy - particularly natural gas - and manufacturing.
“The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy,” said President Obama.
Energy and manufacturing are critical for economic recovery, and by focusing on natural gas as an energy source for transportation and industry, President Obama estimated that 600,000 new jobs will be created by 2020.  

While the U.S. administration is also looking at how to best use domestic oil supply, it recognizes that alternative energy sources are going to play a critical role in the country’s manufacturing and transportation success.

There are limited alternatives to petroleum based fuels, giving great promise to liquified natural gas (LNG) for the long-haul heavy-duty vehicle sector, which consumes 15 percent of on-highway transportation oil in the U.S. 

To transition long-haul trucking fleets, Westport, Clean Energy Fuels, and Chesapeake are tackling this head on by developing the technologies, infrastructure and resources that will support this critical stimulus.  For example, on January 12, Clean Energy Fuels announced its route plan for the first 150 liquid natural gas (LNG) fueling stations for heavy-duty, on-road trucking. The company anticipates having 70 stations open by the end of 2012 in 33 states.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 5,000 truck stops selling diesel across the country, but only 45 stations that sell LNG, and most of those are in California. What has been needed to spur more investment and interest in building infrastructure is the political will…and last night’s SOTU was evidence of that. 

A shift to natural gas will not only spur activity in this energy market, it will create significant savings for long-haul truck operators and fleets that can in turn be re-invested in the economy. The U.S. Energy Information Agency says that natural gas, on average, costs 42 percent less than diesel fuel on an energy equivalent basis and is expected to cost 50 percent less by 2035.

There are also, as the President alluded, environmental benefits in a shift to natural gas for transportation. Natural gas has the lowest carbon content of all fossil fuels when sourced from domestic reserves.  A Westport HD truck powered by LNG will generate 18-25% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than a comparable diesel truck. 

Reliance on foreign oil is a security issue for the United States.  With access to high volumes of inexpensive, domestic natural gas, policies that will shift industries to this resource will enhance energy security and provide a critical boost to the American economy.  More than 50 percent of the oil used every day in the U.S. is imported, while 89 percent of the natural gas used is domestic according to the Energy Information Administration report on Natural Gas Imports and Exports. By promoting greater use of natural gas in industry and transportation, the potential costs savings and implications for re-investment in the American economy are huge

This address signals an important new focus of support for natural gas in the trucking industry across the U.S., as part of an overall solution for reducing dependence on foreign oil, invigorating the American economy and transitioning to a lower-carbon fuel in the transport sector.

January 19, 2012

America's Natural Gas Highway is One Step Closer

On January 12 Clean Energy announced the route plan for phase one of America's Natural Gas Highway (ANGH), a network of fueling stations that serve major trucking corridors in the U.S. It’s a significant collaboration between Clean Energy Fuels Corp, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and Pilot-Flying J Travel Centers

Pictured above: Route map shows initial phase of America’s Natural Gas Highway, a network of LNG fueling stations along main trucking corridors being built by Clean Energy to support the growing deployment of natural gas-fueled trucks for goods movement. Image credit: Clean Energy.

With around $450 million invested in 2011, the project is a game-changer, enabling the heavy-duty trucking industry to make the move to natural gas by reducing the perceived fear of range anxiety. Fleets can be anxious about switching from diesel to natural gas because they believe there is not enough fueling infrastructure in place to permit them the same range of travel. America's Natural Gas Highway will help quash those fears with its robust network of fueling stations, while also helping to alleviate the US's dependency on foreign oil.

“The support behind this initiative shows that natural gas is gaining momentum in the trucking industry as an economical and environmental solution,” said Clark Quintin, President of Westport HD. “It’s exciting to witness first-hand developments like this that will help demonstrate that natural gas has become a mainstream fuel.”

The planned network's first phase involves a backbone of 150 fueling stations, and Clean Energy anticipates that it will have 70 stations open by the end of 2012 in 33 states. The first major highway segments that are planned for early opening include those linking San Diego-Los Angeles-Riverside-Las Vegas; the Texas Triangle (Houston-San Antionio-Dallas/Ft. Worth); Chicago-Atlanta, and a network of stations along major hiqhways in the mid-west region (IL, IN, OH, MO, KY, TN, KS, OK, AL).

January 12, 2012

Engine Certification is in the House!

Testing, testing, one, two, three. Literally. That big structure quickly taking shape on Barnard Avenue will be home to three new test cells that are an important part of an expanded High Tech Centre (HTC) at Westport.

Since starting construction in October, the expanded facility has been steadily raising the roof. When complete, it will be home to a machine shop, a fabrication shop and offices, in addition to the test cells.

While the current five test cells in the existing High Tech Centre are able to do primarily stationary testing, the new cells will allow Westport to run both stationary and transient test cycles, mimicking driving conditions, like going up and down hills or braking and accelerating.

The new cells are going to expand capacity to do testing by about 30 percent and are much needed, since the existing three cells are now running double shifts - some of them 24/7 - due to the demand.

By March, the building should be completed, and all of the equipment needed will be installed by April.

Along with the new building construction, Westport is adding another cell to the existing HTC, giving us the ability to do essential engine certification in house.

“Currently, we have to go outside for some testing, and this means we will be able to all of our testing here, including the certification,” explains Vladan Stanojevic, Manager of Engine Testing.

Internal certification means significant savings in time, energy and cost. Because all of the equipment in the cell is new, representatives from AVL are on-site this week to commission the test cell control system.

Laying the Foundation
Deep in the Construction Phase
The Building Blocks of the New High Tech Centre