An investment opportunity for CNG filling stations was published recently on the Internet (International CNG, 2012). It suggested that a $1.75 million investment is needed into a CNG station located in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia. A station would serve 1,000 cars per week, 10 gge/fill/car/week, with $0.50 margin over the cost of natural gas for a 15 percent return on investment.
The natural gas filling station infrastructure costs can be estimated based on the above investment offer by assuming one filling station per 1,000 CNG vehicles and a cost of $1.3 million per filling station (land, buildings, and equipment). On that basis, for example, for 5 million CNG vehicles, the filling station infrastructure would cost about $6.5 billion. CNG compressing and dispensing equipment is being sold by the clean-energy company IMW Industries at the writing of this report.
For municipal CNG vehicle fleets, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory report (Johnson, 2010) analyzes the business case for filling stations. A model has been developed that allows an investor to compute capital requirements and returns as a function of a number of equipment and operating variables.
The price of home-dispensed CNG can be significantly lower than filling station-dispensed CNG. As a result, CNG vehicle owners have been interested in home refueling. Honda Civic GX owners in California were able to purchase a home-fill station for overnight refueling for about $4,500 and have it installed at an additional fee. As of this writing, Honda is not recommending the home refueling of their CNG vehicles, due in part to concerns about the humidity content of home natural gas.
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