¡¡¡¡As China curbs the use of diesel in its battle against air pollution, demand for natural gas powered trucks will continue to rise, especially in the logistics, postal services and public transportation sectors, according to industry experts.
¡¡¡¡Compared with electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles are more economical, said Wei Honglian, an official in charge of the vehicle emissions department at the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
¡¡¡¡Natural gas vehicles, especially liquefied natural gas heavy-duty trucks, will prove popular, he said during a seminar held in Beijing recently.
¡¡¡¡In addition to its low cost, natural gas fuel combustion produces significantly fewer polluting particle emissions compared with gasoline, which has driven up the production of natural gas vehicles in the past year.
¡¡¡¡Production of large LNG trucks broke records last year with a total of 96,000 such vehicles produced, compared with 19,600 in 2016.
¡¡¡¡This comes as China is encouraging the use of clean energy-powered vehicles and tightening control over emissions from new motor vehicles as part of its continued battle against air pollution.
¡¡¡¡Several ports in China, including those in Hebei and Shandong provinces and Tianjin Port, the largest in northern China, stopped receiving coal transported in diesel trucks last year to cut vehicle exhaust emissions and coal is now carried by rail, according to local environmental authorities.
¡¡¡¡Natural gas vehicles save 2,500 to 3,000 yuan ($377 to $453) each month compared with diesel vehicles, according to Shenzhen's clean energy transportation promotion association.
¡¡¡¡As logistics companies and the transportation sector become more aware of environmental protection, more natural gas vehicles will likely be introduced, it said.
¡¡¡¡It also suggested that the government should offer more financial support to further encourage the development of natural gas vehicles in China and the scrapping of polluting diesel ones.
¡¡¡¡Insiders are also calling for a sufficient and steady supply of LNG resources to encourage development of natural gas vehicles.
¡¡¡¡According to Jin Shuping, deputy head of CNOOC Gas and Power Group, a unit of China National Offshore Oil Corp, the company has been working to step up construction of its LNG infrastructure facilities in recent years to provide sufficient natural gas resources to meet the increasing demand for gas in the country.
¡¡¡¡It has become the third-largest LNG importer worldwide and imported more than 20.46 million metric tons of LNG last year, accounting for 54.7 percent of the country's total imports.
¡¡¡¡With nine LNG terminals scattered across the country, especially on the east coast, the company said it plans to set up more LNG terminals in Fujian, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces and enlarge the current LNG terminal in Tianjin to increase its receiving capacity.
¡¡¡¡The company will also diversify its overseas LNG sources in addition to the current one in Australia to further ensure supply.