How Propane Is Ready to Electrify the Future

June 21, 2024
In this QuickChat video, Jim Bunsey of the Propane Energy Resource Council explains how propane is powering the decarbonization of ports, vehicle fleets and beyond.

Propane is ready to help electrify the future, according to Jim Bunsey, director of communications and business development for the Propane Energy Resource Council.

Bunsey recently sat down with Rod Walton, managing editor of Microgrid Knowledge, to discuss how propane is powering the decarbonization of ports, vehicle fleets and beyond.

Ports are under a lot of pressure to decarbonize operations, and propane is uniquely positioned to accelerate that process, Bunsey said. Powering everything from forklifts to port tractors, conventional and renewable propane is abundant and burns cleaner than diesel fuel, he added.

“It’s a hydrogen-rich fuel, that’s why it burns so clean,” Bunsey explained.

In addition, the transition from conventional to renewable propane is seamless. “You can do a 1% renewable blend, up to 5% renewable blend, up to 100% renewable blend, not changing any of your storage, not changing your infrastructure and not changing your vehicle. So it's a clear path to zero (emissions),” he told Walton.

Renewable propane developments

Walton and Bunsey also discussed advancements in renewable propane. Bunsey pointed to two promising developments.

“There are groups that are looking at new ways … to develop more renewable propane and other renewables [by] breaking down old tires or recyclable plastics,” he said.

Others are working on creating renewable propane from the camelina plant, a fast-germinating ground cover that is broken down into propane. One of the primary byproducts of the process is animal feed. 

Propane infrastructure easily scaled

Another use case discussed by Bunsey is propane-powered school and mass transit buses. Maintenance costs for propane-powered fleets are lower, as are fuel costs, Bunsey said, which means vehicle budgets go further.

And the corresponding infrastructure for propane-powered fleets is easy to scale. Bunsey recalled one project where a school district went from just a handful of propane buses to around 300. “All they did was add more tanks and dispensers,” he said. “It’s all scalable as the fleets grow.” 

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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