The use of LNG as a transportation fuel is gathering pace, according to LNG 17 – the only global event created by the industry about the popular gas.

The conference will be held later this year, in Houston, Texas, from April 16 to 19. And the news regarding the use of LNG as a transportation fuel comes hot the heels of gasworld covering the same subject as a two part Hot Topic in the December and January issues of the magazine respectively.

America’s Natural Gas Highway recently got a boost as key stakeholders, Clean Energy Fuels and GE signed a collaboration to provide fuel-efficient technologies and microfinancing for the ‘Coast-to-Coast and Border-to-Border’ infrastructure, expected to feature approximately 70 LNG stations by the end of 2012.

Just a few weeks before, China - the world’s second largest fuel consumer - also unveiled a natural gas policy advocating LNG for the first time, targeting the transportation sector i.e. buses, taxis, trucks and ships. The government policy document also set out China’s aims to reduce its diesel dependency, the main fuel currently used in the country’s transportation sector.

Meanwhile, a similar initiative in Europe - the Blue Corridor - offers several LNG refuelling possibilities for heavy vehicles, giving them full guarantee of fuel availability along the Mediterranean coast into central Europe.

“The transportation sector is the single largest contributor to oil demand in many countries across the world, consuming approximately one-fifth of global primary energy. Natural gas is flexible and can be used to fuel a wide range of modes of transportation, from light-duty vehicles to heavy-duty trucks and ships,” said Jay Copan, Executive Director, LNG 17, the world’s largest LNG event in 2013.

The International Gas Union’s “Global Vision for Gas – Pathways Towards a Sustainable Energy Future” cites that road transport is the second-largest source of global emissions after power generation, slated to account for 21% of emissions by 2050. The Pathways report also cites that if all heavy industry vehicles and shipping switched over to LNG, emissions from these vehicles would be reduced by 20%.

“One of the biggest drivers for the uptake of LNG in transportation is the cost-effective and fuel-efficient technologies now becoming commercially available. With truck fleets now having the option to reduce fuel costs by more than 25%, and lower emissions, with LNG we believe the momentum will only drive us forward,” said Copan.

Initial studies show that the use of LNG instead of diesel engines can reduce a ship’s CO2 emissions by 25% and cut its sulphur emissions by as much as 80%. Classification society Lloyd’s Register believes that LNG as fuel could account for up to eight percent of total bunker fuel demand by 2025. Five ports are already developing LNG bunkering infrastructure, including Gothenburg and Nynashamn in Sweden, Zeebrugge in Belgium, Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Singapore.

“A millennium ago, marine moved from oar to sail, two centuries ago sail to steam, a century ago steam to diesel, and now it’s a new era for gas,” John Hatley PE, Americas Vice President Ship Power, Wartsila North America, Inc and a confirmed speaker at LNG 17.

The LNG 17 conference and exhibition will also feature actual technology displays, relating to LNG in transport. Within the record setting 200,000 square foot exhibition an LNG for Transportation Pavilion will be set up, offering this growing sector the chance to showcase progress, as well as the different applications of LNG in transport.