American conglomerate General Electric has announced plans to develop an at-home station to fuel natural gas cars (Businessweek). With the help of United States government research money, the company is striving to make it quick, easy, and safe for people to fuel natural gas cars.
Without natural gas stations, natural gas vehicles have largely been relegated to large fleet transport, such as municipal governments and trucking fleets. The hope is that with easier access to the fuel, conventional consumers will be able to use natural gas to fuel their personal vehicles as well.
According to Businessweek:
"GE will team with gas processing company Chart Industries Inc. and the University of Missouri to develop an inexpensive home refueling station that would connect to home gas lines, compress the gas and deliver it to vehicle fuel tanks. The project will receive $2.3 million through an Energy Department program called the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy."
The goal is to bring the price of the at-home stations down to $500, a far cry from the present $5,000. But the current low price for natural gas is encouraging research in this area, as is the plentiful North American reserves, which could secure America's energy future for some time. Currently, Honda is the only manufacturer to produce a natural gas powered car, but others will soon follow.
This is great news foe Intelligent Investors in the natural gas arena, as well as for investors in General Electric. GE is rapidly expanding into the energy technology and infrastructure sector, and through intensive research and acquisitions, it has become the most prized asset in the company. They will be able to use their size and government connections to actually get this idea off the ground.
For natural gas companies, such as Canada's EnCana (TSE: ECA), new sales are crucial if the current glut in natural gas supplies is going to subside and increase prices. Compelling consumers and businesses to use natural gas to fuel transportation is a long-term prospect, but one very much worth pursuing.
Cheers Intelligent Investors.
Disclosure: Matthew Clarke owns or indirectly controls shares in General Electric (NYSE: GE).