A week ago I attended the ACTexpo in Long Beach and I came away more excited about alternative energy solutions than I was before the event. The lessons learned and the excitement around alternative energy (Mostly CNG and LNG) were fantastic.
The first item I was genuinely excited about was the transition to these fuels will not be government subsidy driven. Rather, the pure economics of the conversion will take precedent and those who see the value will convert on their own. We will truly do "Good for the planet while doing Good for our companies"
The second item and the clear overarching lesson is when a company is going to move to alternative fuels it truly is an engineered solution. By far, the biggest question was: Is it LNG or CNG for the future? Most respondents would make blanket answers as if it was an all or nothing. I continue to say you have to think of this as akin to a stock portfolio: Some bonds, some cash, some stocks. And you adjust based on the economics and your personal situation.
Alternative fuels are exactly the same: Some LNG, some CNG, a lot of diesel, maybe some hybrid (we will see where this goes - the hybrid discussions were the most disappointing). A company thinking of an alternative fuels strategy needs to do deep and INDEPENDENT analysis on what their applications are now and anticipated to be, the pros and cons of each application, the economics and then start putting the program together. My feeling is those who just jump in because it is "cool" and it makes them look like they are doing "something" may find their portfolio all upside down and it will be tough to correct.
I highly encourage this conference. A great place to learn a lot. Just keep your thinking cap on and understand a lot of people are there to sell what they have. The true answer is analyzing what the shipper wants and then finding the right mix.