There has been a lot of talk lately on the maritime side of shipping regarding container ships that use alternative fuel sources. While this is certainly good news, the truth is that this side of shipping is behind the ball when it becomes to alternative fuel. Domestic shipping has been embracing these types of vehicles for years. Examples include liquefied natural gas powered trucks and compressed natural gas powered trucks.
Due to the fact that traditional fuel prices are down in the past few months, it seems that switching to alternative fuel might not be as popular as it once was. However, shippers and freight forwarders both want to work with carriers who understand and value the environment benefit of lowering their carbon footprint. In addition, when fuel prices increase in the future, alternative fuels also have an economic benefit. A big problem right now is that the lack of re-fueling natural gas stations in certain parts of the US. If alternative fuel trucks can lower expenses, then that might result in lower freight trucking rates.
The Journal of Commerce recently reported on UPS replacing 64 diesel trucks with 64 LNG-powered trucks for the purposes of less-than-truckload shipping. UPS should be commended for having over 5000 alternative fuel trucks already on the road, although most of them are used in certain routes and cities.
The eventual hope is that more trucking carriers will catch on the alternative fuel mindset. If more carriers do use these types of trucks, the industry could be in a better place.