Montreal Gazette: Opinion: Propane is a cleaner alternative to gasoline

The government of Quebec held public consultations on the future of hydrocarbons on June 15. The consultations were meant to influence the province’s long-term energy policy that will span the years 2016-2025. A clear consensus emerged on the need to protect the environment, promote energy efficiency and support cleaner energy alternatives.

When people think of clean energy, images of solar panels and wind turbines are likely to come to mind, as well as hydro dams.

These sources are ideal for homes connected to the grid, but what are the clean alternatives for cars, trucks, and other fleet vehicles? The current consumer markets limit us to hybrids — which still require oil — and electric batteries, still a developing technology. They are also harder to use in large vehicles. Considering the costs involved, the government and other fleet operators have been reluctant to invest in these alternatives.

For fleet operators, who collectively manage hundreds of thousands of vehicles on Quebec roads, the most efficient, clean, cost-saving, and proven option is to make the switch to propane.

Part of the reason is that propane cars release only a quarter of the greenhouse gases that are emitted by cars running on gasoline, enabling a vehicle driven 65,000 km a year to emit four tonnes fewer greenhouse gases compared with the same vehicle on gasoline.

More stable than oil, liquid propane is also much safer to transport. Our supply of propane comes from other Canadian provinces, which have strict environmental regulations that govern the use and transport of the product. This makes propane an eco-friendly choice when compared with the oil Quebec currently imports from foreign countries that have lax regulations and where spills occur so often that they are no longer newsworthy.

And Canada has an abundance of clean propane ready to use. Seventy per cent of our annual production is exported because of low domestic demand, but this situation could easily change if we capitalize on propane’s potential.

Nearly every passenger vehicle and large truck can be converted to propane for a very low one-time cost. Given that the cost of propane is roughly two-thirds lower than the current gas prices you find at the pump and that maintenance costs over time are cheaper, the savings add up quickly.

If the government is serious about implementing a greener energy policy for the future, it should take a closer look at propane.

By our own calculations, it would only take 16 months for the provincial government to pay off the initial cost of converting every vehicle that it operates. After that, the conversion would save taxpayers nearly $40 million every year. For other fleets, operators can expect a 20-per-cent reduction in total costs. See original article here.