The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has issued a new report that will assist fleet operators determine the viability of a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicle and/or fueling infrastructure project as a precursor to investment. NREL states CNG has garnered interest as a transportation fuel in part because of its cost savings and price stability compared to conventional petroleum fuels, hence the publishing of the tool, named VICE 2.0.
Building a Business Case for Compressed Natural Gas in Fleet Applications helps readers assess the vehicle and infrastructure requirements that best suit their type of operation. The publication details an enhanced version of a previous online modelling tool developed by NREL—the Vehicle Infrastructure and Cash-Flow Evaluation (VICE) model—that helps businesses and fleets evaluate the financial soundness of CNG vehicle and CNG fueling infrastructure projects. VICE 2.0 can now help assess projects to acquire vehicles and infrastructure, or to acquire vehicles only.
VICE 2.0 offers users robust visual and reporting enhancements, including graphic images of return on investment, cumulative cash flow, and payback periods. It also calculates petroleum displacement (annual and cumulative) and annual greenhouse gas reductions, and displays them based on the fleet’s specific attributes. The publication features an overview of VICE 2.0 and the default values for such factors as investment type, tax exemption status for fuel, and operations and incentives for base-case vehicles. In addition, the report addresses profitability and its sensitivity to parameters such as fuel cost and vehicle miles traveled.
The report and model are especially beneficial to fleets that are well-suited to using CNG, such as those with routes that start and end in the same location and are therefore able to refuel at a central location.
Other online resources for fleets considering CNG, including case studies, are available on the Alternative Fuels Data Center and Clean Cities websites.