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Ohio renewable natural gas station to fuel Amazon trucks

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. opened a station on Wednesday in Groveport, Ohio, that will supply Amazon trucks and other fleets with 700,000 gallons of renewable natural gas (RNG) annually. 

The two companies entered an agreement in 2021 for Clean Energy (NASDAQ: CLNE) to provide Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) with RNG at 27 existing stations and 19 stations that were to be built or upgraded. This Groveport station is the first of the 19.

Read: Is Amazon getting into the renewable natural gas business?

The 700,000 gallons of RNG will reduce carbon emissions by 6,848 metric tons, which is the equivalent of removing 1,489 passenger cars from the road annually, according to a Clean Energy news release.

Amazon could use the Groveport station’s entire 700,000 gallons a year of RNG if it deploys all of the heavy-duty natural gas trucks that it plans on, Clean Energy President and CEO Andrew J. Littlefair told FreightWaves.

“We are hopeful that other fleets that operate in the central Ohio area will see the many benefits of RNG and will eventually use the station,” Littlefair said. “We are already in discussions with a number of fleets.”

The Groveport station spans 6.7 acres and includes multiple fast-fill RNG dispensers. It also boasts time-fill posts for up to 52 trucks.

“This multimillion-dollar investment in the Columbus, Ohio, area will put it on the map as a hub for clean, sustainable fueling,” the news release said. “Plans are already underway to add fueling capacity for additional heavy- and medium-duty trucks.”

What is RNG? Is it expensive?

The biogas that companies use to make RNG is typically collected from sources of organic matter, such as landfills, dairy and livestock farms, organic waste management operations or food production facilities.

Food waste and cattle emit large amounts of methane, which is a greenhouse gas with 25 times the global warming effects of carbon dioxide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Large fleets fueling with RNG have the ability to realize immediate and significant carbon reduction, especially in the heavy-duty truck sector, which could be many years away from meaningful electrification,” Littlefair said.

The California Air Resources Board gave RNG from dairy farms an average carbon intensity score of minus-343, which is a better number than electric vehicles received.

RNG produced from dairy farms boasts a better carbon intensity rating and, therefore, a higher price in California, Littlefair said.

He said the cost of the RNG varies depending on the contract and location, but RNG runs about $1 to $1.50 less than diesel per gallon. Renewable natural gas is generally less vulnerable to volatile prices, depending on the global political environment, when compared to diesel.

While fueling a vehicle with RNG saves truckers money, it requires that they first have a rig that can run on it.

Groveport and future Ohio RNG investments

Groveport was chosen because it has “become a hub” for distribution centers and Amazon operations in the central Ohio area, Littlefair said. The city of Groveport was also cooperative with the permitting process because it realized the benefits of an RNG station, he said.

Evan Barton, owner of South Fork Dairy in Newark, Ohio, also joined the ceremony for the Groveport station. Barton signed an agreement with Clean Energy to produce 500,000 gallons of RNG a year from the methane produced by his 3,300 dairy cows’ manure. 

The $15 million investment at South Fork Dairy will produce RNG for the Groveport station and others around the country. Other Ohio dairy farm investments are underway. Capturing methane emissions to produce RNG is a useful way for dairy farmers to lower their carbon footprint and gain additional income.

Littlefair said about six more RNG stations should open in the next three or four months, and the rest of the 19 stations are expected to be finished in the first half of 2023. 

“We couldn’t be more excited about the completion of the RNG station in Groveport because it will allow up to 50 Amazon trucks to fuel with time-fill capability overnight, as well as plenty of fast-fill capacity for not only Amazon trucks but other fleets that choose to use this incredibly clean fuel,” Littlefair said.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Alyssa Sporrer.

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