Written on: November 30, 2023
Combating climate change requires a comprehensive strategy that lowers carbon emissions across many sectors. This means embracing all available low-carbon energy sources. Right now, propane is playing a pivotal role in decarbonizing homes, businesses and vehicles — and the propane industry is continuing to lower its carbon impact.
Conventional propane’s carbon intensity score — the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) generated to produce a megajoule (MJ) of energy — is 79 gCO2eq/MJ. Its CI score is significantly lower than gasoline and diesel, each with a CI rating of 91. It’s also lower than the average CI rating for U.S. grid electricity, which is 130.
Here are four ways that using propane reduces carbon emissions today.
The transportation sector represents the largest contributor to U.S. carbon emissions. But propane autogas can lower the carbon impact of old diesel or gasoline-powered vehicle fleets.
The Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model shows that using propane to power a vehicle can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 13% compared with gasoline and diesel. Using propane sourced from natural gas production (as over two-thirds of U.S. propane is) can reduce petroleum use by 99%!
Converting to autogas can also yield substantive reductions in nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions.
Converting a fleet to propane also has magnificent cost benefits for businesses and municipalities. According to Alliance AutoGas, propane is consistently 30-50% less expensive than gasoline or diesel because it is domestically sourced. Many states offer businesses financial incentives to defray the cost of putting an autogas fleet on the road.
When homes use propane equipment for heat, hot water and other uses, they can experience incredible efficiencies that lower their energy consumption. That’s great for the planet and home budgets. Here are some examples:
Dr. Gokul Vishwanathan, Director of Research and Sustainability at the Propane Education & Research Council, says, “Extreme weather events, greenhouse gas emissions, and local air quality are re-wiring the power generation market. By using propane, we can reduce harmful emissions as the use of diesel backup power has grown in residential and commercial communities.”
Homes and businesses rely on backup power generation to keep lights, medical equipment, HVAC systems and other vital technology on when the grid fails. Increasingly, propane is offering a more appealing alternative to diesel and gasoline. Not only is its CI lower, but propane also has the benefit of an unlimited shelf life, compared to three to six months of shelf life for gasoline and six to 12 months for diesel.
The propane industry is bringing the already-low carbon intensity of its product even lower with the growth of renewable propane production. Renewable liquid propane gas and blends of renewable and conventional liquid gases are fungible for safe use in conventional propane systems and can include certain blends of other compatible liquid gases.
Renewable propane is derived from organic and recycled feedstocks, which results in a fuel with a far lower CI:
When you combine the emergence of low-carbon renewable propane with efficient propane appliances, vehicles, and power generation, you see some substantial reductions in carbon emissions.
Sources: Propane Education and Research Council. U.S. Department of Energy